Type of Document Dissertation Author Phillips, Beth Michelle URN etd-09222003-201321 Title Effortful Control as a Temperamental Trait in Children and Adolescents: Construct Validation and Relation to Symptoms of Psychopathology Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Psychology, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Jeanette Taylor Committee Chair Bryan Loney Committee Member Howard Goldstein Committee Member Richard Wagner Committee Member Thomas Joiner Committee Member Keywords
- Construct Validation and Relation to Symptoms of P
Date of Defense 2003-08-02 Availability unrestricted AbstractRecent decades have seen a surge of interest in models of personality, temperament, and affect,
particularly in relation to the development of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. A
prominent model includes factors of Negative (NA) and Positive Affect (PA) to explain the overlap of anxiety and depression. NA and PA overlap with reactive temperament as putative contributors to symptom development. Similarly, the construct of effortful and attentional control (EC), distinct from impulsivity, has emerged as a temperament factor that theoretically moderates the influence of the reactive traits.
This study was designed to investigate relations between reactive and effortful temperament and
symptoms of psychopathology in youth. This study also explored relations among measures of
executive functioning (EF) and their links with temperament and psychopathology. Participants
included 446 students ages 11 to 18 years (M = 14.31, SD = 1.75). These students completed five
instruments measuring NA, PA, EC, and Impulsivity, plus seven instruments measuring anxiety, depression, and externalizing problems. Further, 150 participants stratified by grade and sex completed three EF tasks. These measures, hypothesized to overlap with EC, theoretically tapped abilities to inhibit, plan, and direct attention and behavior.
Bivariate correlations, principal components, and confirmatory factor analyses aided the
development of temperament and symptom models and investigation of the relations among factors. Structural equation models explored relations between temperament and symptoms.
Analyses also evaluated relations between EF tasks and their relations with temperament and
symptoms. Results indicated that NA was significantly related to EC, Impulsivity, and all forms of symptomatology, and was unrelated to PA, which was primarily related to symptoms of
depression, and also related to EC and impulsivity. In some, but not all analytic models, EC was related to all forms of symptomatology, and was related to but distinct from Impulsivity. All three symptom types were highly interrelated. Surprisingly, Impulsivity was not uniquely related to externalizing problems. Despite previous findings and conceptual overlap, the EF tasks were unrelated to all other constructs and only two tasks were significantly correlated. Results support
temperament contributions to children’s symptom expression but indicate that construct
refinement is needed in the temperament and EF domains.
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