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Emotion. 2004 Dec;4(4):364-77.

Early manifestations of personality and adult emotional functioning.

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  • 1Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Developmental antecedents to adult emotional functioning were investigated in an epidemiologic study using theories of personality and emotion. The authors tested whether different types of adult emotional distress can be linked to childhood personality attributes. Using data from 3,138 children at age 7, measures of 4 childhood personality attributes were developed and validated: Behavioral Inhibition, Distress Proneness, Attention, and Inappropriate Interpersonal Self-Regulation. Sound psychometric properties of these scales are demonstrated by considering the measures across multiple samples and in comparison with established child behavior measures. Emotional distress measures were obtained for 694 of these individuals at age 35. Of the personality attributes, 3 of 4 (except behavioral inhibition) predicted general levels of distress as well as specific aspects of adult emotional functioning.

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