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Psychophysiology of fearful temperament : a follow up study.

Ktistaki, Georgia. 2009. Psychophysiology of fearful temperament : a follow up study. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Fearfulness as a temperament dimension is already evident in infants. Children who vary in fearfulness differ in their behavioural and physiological reactivity to novel situations. Despite evidence linking the extremes of early fearful temperament to later psychopathology, information regarding its development and correlates is lacking. The present research examined fearful temperament in infancy through assessments of behaviour and physiology, and compared this information with maternal reports. The proposed associations between fearfulness, sustained attention and of effortful control were also investigated. Temperament was examined longitudinally in 50 healthy infants in the 1st and 2nd year of life. Mothers reported on their children's fearfulness; behavioural distress during fear provocation, and resting and stress levels of skin conductance activity (SCA) and Cortisol were examined. Skin conductance responses (SCRs) during an Orienting Habituation Paradigm (OHP) were also studied. We successfully induced fear in children, as reflected in significant changes in behaviour and physiology. In line with previous findings, higher physiological stress reactivity was most prominent in children high in behavioural distress, but only in year 1. Mother-rated fearfulness was not associated with physiological reactivity. With respect to the development of fear, although baseline physiological levels decreased over time, behavioural and physiological stress reactivity increased, supporting the notion that fear in young children increases with time as a result of developing cognitive skills. Within-year (i.e., baseline vs. stress) but not between-year (year 1 vs. 2) stability in individual patterns of behaviour and physiological reactivity was observed. Mother-rated fearfulness and internalizing behaviour were related to better ability to delay gratification. Unexpectedly, sustained attention and effortful control performance were inversely related. Finally, no evidence of gender differences on any temperament parameter was observed. The implications of these findings for our understanding of early temperament development are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
ISBN: 9781303196959
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:12

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