Are different temperament traits involved in adapting to routine and novel situations?
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Individual differences in adaptability, defined as ease of responding to changes, was initially suggested as a temperamental disposition, observable during the first years of life (Thomas & Chess, 1977), but turned out to be a more complex phenomenon with contributions from multiple temperamental traits (Teglasi, 1998). Temperament traits contribute differently depending on the functional requirements of routine and familiar contexts for reactive and self-regulatory processes. The current study utilizes parent-reported temperament traits measured by the Structured Temperament Interview (STI) and by a well-respected temperament measure (the Child Behavior Questionnaire; CBQ), as well as correlates of adaptive responsiveness (e.g. social competence and emotion understanding) to highlight the role that emotions play in adjustment to familiar and novel contexts. Part of an archival data set, pre-schoolers’ parents completed the CBQ (Rothbart, et al., 2001) and the STI (Teglasi, unpublished) and reported how well their child adapted in novel and routine contexts. Children completed the Emotion Comprehension Test (ECT; Teglasi, unpublished) and teachers filled out the Social Competence Behavior Evaluation (SCBE; Freniere & Dumas, 1995). Results provided support for conceptualising temperament traits as working together like a team—the addition of one temperament trait can change the expression of another. Additionally, different traits emerged as unique predictors in novel and routine situations, even when controlling for the overlap between those situations and other traits. Finally, this study continued to expand on a new construct, Resistance to Emotional Attention, which captures the function of attention as it relates to emotional stimuli.