Does infancy matter? predicting social behavior from infant temperament

Nathan A. Fox, Heather A. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this essay we argue that infant temperament, defined as behavioral styles that appear early in life as a direct result of neurobiological factors, plays a significant role in the development and expression of social behavior. Temperament may be studied using a typological or dimensional approach and the relations between early temperament and later behavior can be examined in terms of homotypic or heterotypic continuity. The implication of each of these approaches for understanding the influence of infant temperament on social development is examined. As well, utilizing data from our laboratory, we suggest that under certain circumstances one can predict social behavior by identifying two temperament types in infancy. These types are high reactive/high negative infants and high reactive/high positive infants. A significant proportion of the high reactive/high negative infants display behavioral inhibition and social reticence through the preschool years, whereas a significant proportion of the high reactive/high positive infants display exuberance and positive social interaction through the preschool period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-455
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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