Temperament and personality correlates of preschoolers' behavioral adjustment
Tan, Kit Aun
Date of Issue2013
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The main goal of this thesis is to contribute to the child development literature about how temperamental predispositions (operationalized as effortful control and surgency) and the personality dimension of agreeableness affect behavioral adjustment (operationalized as adaptive skills and externalizing problems) using a sample of 200 preschoolers (110 boys and 90 girls) from Malaysia. The purpose of the present study is twofold. First, it is to evaluate the convergent and discriminant validity of parent-, teacher-, and observer ratings of two of Behavioral Assessment System for Children-2’s composite scales—Adaptive Skills and Externalizing Problems, using established validation procedures (i.e., multitrait-multimethod approach and confirmatory factor analysis). Second, the present study sought to determine if agreeableness was a mediating variable in the relations between temperament predispositions and behavioral adjustment. The findings suggest that parent ratings, in comparison with teacher-and observer ratings, have a better combination of convergent and discriminant validity. Teacher ratings and observer ratings, on the other hand, demonstrated mid-level validity. Consequentially, only parent ratings on adaptive skills and externalizing problems were used for all subsequent analyses. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the direct and indirect relations among study constructs. As expected, effortful control was positively associated with agreeableness and adaptive skills but negatively associated with surgency and externalizing problems. Consistent with the predictions, surgency was positively associated with externalizing problems but negatively associated with agreeableness. In addition to these direct associations between effortful control and surgency and adaptive skills and externalizing problems, agreeableness was a significant partial mediator in the relations between effortful control and surgency, and externalizing problems. Agreeableness also emerged as a significant partial mediator in the relation between effortful control and adaptive skills, but not for the relation between surgency and adaptive skills. This thesis contributes to the body of work on early childhood development in at least three ways.