Temperament and common disruptive behavior problems in preschool

Michelle M. Martel, Monica L. Gremillion, Bethan Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The study evaluated trait associations with common Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), during an understudied developmental period: preschool. Participants were 109 children ages 3-6 and their families. DBD symptoms were available via parent and teacher/caregiver report on the Disruptive Behavior Rating Scale. Traits were measured using observational coding paradigms, and parent and examiner report on the Child Behavior Questionnaire and the California Q-Sort. The DBD groups exhibited significantly higher negative affect, higher surgency, and lower effortful control. Negative affect was associated with most DBD symptom domains; surgency and reactive control were associated with hyperactivity-impulsivity; and effortful control was associated with ADHD and inattention. Interactive effects between effortful control and negative affect and curvilinear associations of reactive control with DBD symptoms were evident. Temperament trait associations with DBD during preschool are similar to those seen during middle childhood. Extreme levels of temperament traits are associated with DBD as early as preschool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-879
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Behavior problems
  • Preschool children
  • Temperament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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