Childhood temperament and family environment have been shown to predict internalizing and externalizing behavior; however, less is known about how temperament and family environment interact to predict changes in problem behavior. We conducted latent growth curve modeling on a sample assessed at ages 5, 7, 10, 14, and 17 (N = 337). Externalizing behavior decreased over time for both sexes, and internalizing behavior increased over time for girls only. Two childhood variables (fear/shyness and maternal depression) predicted boys' and girls' age-17 internalizing behavior, harsh discipline uniquely predicted boys' age-17 internalizing behavior, and maternal depression and lower family income uniquely predicted increases in girls' internalizing behavior. For externalizing behavior, an array of temperament, family environment, and Temperament × Family Environment variables predicted age-17 behavior for both sexes. Sex differences were present in the prediction of externalizing slopes, with maternal depression predicting increases in boys' externalizing behavior only when impulsivity was low, and harsh discipline predicting increases in girls' externalizing behavior only when impulsivity was high or when fear/shyness was low.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Support for the data collection in this research was provided by the following grants: R01 MH37911, NIMH, U.S. PHS; and R01 HD19739, NICHD, U.S. PHS. Additional support was provided by the following grants: P30 MH46690, NIMH and ORMH, U.S. PHS; R01 MH37940 and R01 MH59780, NIMH, U.S. PHS; R01 HD34511 and R01 HD42608, NICHD, U.S. PHS.; and DA17592, NIDA, U.S. PHS. The authors thank Mike Stoolmiller for statistical consultation, Matthew Rabel for editorial assistance, and all of the wonderful parents and children who graciously participated in this project for many years.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health