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Temperament in early adolescence
chapterposted on 01.01.2008, 00:00 authored by A V Sanson, Primrose LetcherPrimrose Letcher, D Smart
Introduction – Why study temperament in the context of early adolescent development? The publication of the report by Thomas, Chess and colleagues on the New York Longitudinal Study (Thomas et al., 1963) reflected the start of a paradigm shift from a predominantly environmentalistic, unidirectional perspective on child development, to one which acknowledged the child's own active part in the developmental process. They demonstrated clear differences between children in such qualities as their responsiveness to stimulation and capacity to regulate their emotions and attention that impacted upon their subsequent socio-emotional development. While notions of temperament predated Thomas and Chess by two millennia (at least from the time of Galen, 131–201 AD), the modern interest in child temperament can largely be dated to this publication. While there has always been interest in the connections between early temperament and adolescent functioning, interest in adolescent temperament itself is more recent and less advanced. However, there is increasing evidence of the role of temperament-based individual differences in explaining socio-emotional functioning in adolescence. This chapter seeks to provide an account of current understanding and empirical findings regarding the nature of adolescent temperament, its connections with child temperament and adolescent/adult personality, and its associations with various aspects of socio-emotional functioning.