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Early Childhood Temperament and the Covariation Between Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior in School-Aged Children

  • Soo Hyun Rhee (a1), Victoria E. Cosgrove (a2), Stephanie Schmitz (a3), Brett C. Haberstick (a4), Robin C. Corley (a5) and John K. Hewitt (a6)...

Abstract

There is significant covariation between internalizing and externalizing behavior, although there is also evidence that internalizing behavior is a protective factor against externalizing behavior. Several researchers have posited that the examination of the relationship between temperament or personality and behavior problems may help explain these seemingly contradictory results. Specifically, negative emotionality or neuroticism has been cited as a temperament characteristic that internalizing and externalizing behavior share in common, whereas behavioral inhibition may be related only to internalizing behavior. We examined the degree to which the covariation between internalizing and externalizing behavior assessed from age 4 to 12 years can be explained by temperament characteristics assessed from age 14 to 36 months. Additionally, we assessed the extent to which this relationship is due to genetic or environmental factors, analyzing data from 225 monozygotic and 185 dizygotic twin pairs assessed by the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study. In males, a portion of the covariation between internalizing and externalizing behavior was explained by shared environmental influences in common with emotionality and shared environmental influences in common with shyness. In females, most of the covariation between internalizing and externalizing behavior was explained by shared environmental influences in common with emotionality. A possible limitation of this study is that the covariation between temperament and behavior problems may be due to shared measurement variance, as parent ratings were used to assess both temperament and behavior problems.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Soo Hyun Rhee, Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Campus Box 447, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0447, USA.

Early Childhood Temperament and the Covariation Between Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior in School-Aged Children

  • Soo Hyun Rhee (a1), Victoria E. Cosgrove (a2), Stephanie Schmitz (a3), Brett C. Haberstick (a4), Robin C. Corley (a5) and John K. Hewitt (a6)...

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