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Dev Psychol. 1997 Mar;33(2):206-17.

Antecedents of adult interpersonal functioning: effects of individual differences in age 3 temperament.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706, USA.


We examined whether temperamental differences at age 3 are linked to interpersonal functioning in young adulthood. In a sample of over 900 children, we identified 5 distinct groups of children based on behavioral observations: Well-adjusted, undercontrolled, reserved, confident, and inhibited. At age 21, we assessed the children's interpersonal functioning in 4 social contexts: in the social network, at home, in romantic relationships, and at work. We found three patterns of relations: (a) Well-adjusted, reserved, and confident children defined a heterogeneous range of normative adult interpersonal behavior, (b) inhibited children had lower levels of social support but normative adjustment in romantic relationships and at work, and (c) undercontrolled children had lower levels of adjustment and greater interpersonal conflict across adult social contexts.

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