Pediatric Approach (Thomas & Chess)
Definition: Temperament best viewed as a general term referring to the how of behaviour.
Differs from ability, which refers to what and how well of behaving, and from motivation, which accounts for why a person does what he is doing.
Temperament, by contrast, concerns the way in which an individual behaves.
- Activity level
- Threshold of responsiveness
- Intensity of reaction
- Quality of mood
- Attention Span
3 way typology of children:
Personality Tradition (Diamond; Buss & Plomin)
We define temperament as a set of inherited personality traits that appear in early life.
Two defining characteristics:
- The traits are genetic in origin, like other psychological dispositions that are inherited (intelligence, eg)
- Traits appear in infancy - more specifically, during first year of life - which distinguishes temperament from other groups of personality traits, both inherited and acquired.
Constitutionally based individual diffs in emotional, motor and attentional reactivity and self-regulation.
Temperamental characteristics are seen to demonstrate consistency across situations, as well as relative stability over time.
- Fearful distress/inhibition
- Irritable distress
- Attention span and persistence
- Activity level
- Positive affect/approach
- Individual diffs rather than normative characteristics
- Set of traits, rather than a trait itself
- Temperamental dimensions reflect behavioural tendencies that are pervasive across situations, and show stability over time
- Emphasis on biological underpinnings of temperament
- Emerges early in life - in purest form
- Differing boundaries for temperament
- Differing constituents (cf. activity level and emotionality)
- relationship between temperament and personality construed differently
Stability of Easy/Difficult Temperament (Korn, 1984)
- Longitudinal extension of Thomas & Chess' New York Longitudinal Study into adulthood
- 39 boys & 44 girls followed up into adulthood
- Prediction of "difficulty" impressive from age 3 & 4…