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Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 1981 Spring;11(3):167-78.

Child temperament and adult behavior: an exploration of "goodness of fit".


This research investigated the relationship between children's temperamental characteristics and adult behavior. Children were selected for four sex-by-temperament groups on the basis of parent report of temperament and were observed interacting with either a highly controlling or a very permissive adult. The results indicated that the degree of adult control or demands is an important component in understanding the "goodness of fit" between parent behavior and child characteristics and that a child's temperament and its relationship to adult behavior cannot be considered in isolation from other child characteristics, particularly the child's sex. Children's sex and temperament were found to interact in relationship with adult controlling behavior while no child behaviors varied as a function of sex or temperament alone. Adults were found to adjust their controlling behavior as a function of the child's sex and temperament. The results are discussed in light of the cross-sex effects of social reinforcement.

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