Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 167–178 | Cite as

Child temperament and adult behavior: An exploration of “goodness of fit”

  • Betty Nye Gordon


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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Buss AH, Plomin R:A temperament theory of personality development. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1975.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thomas A, Chess S:Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel. 1977.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cameron JR: Parental treatment, children's temperament and the risk of childhood behavior problems: 2 Initial temperament, parental attitudes, and the incidence and form of behavioral problems.Amer J Orthopsychiat 48:140–147, 1978.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Graham P, Rutter M, & George S: Temperamental characteristics as predictors of behavior disorders in children.Am J Orthopsychiat 43:328–339, 1973.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Scholom A, Zucker RA, Stollack GE: Relating early child adjustment to infant and parent temperament.J Abnorm Child Psychol 7:297–308, 1979.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Thomas A, Chess S, Birch HG:Temperament and behavior disorders in children. New York: New York University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cameron JR: Parental treatment, children's temperament, and the risk of childhood behavioral problems: 1. Relationships between parental characteristics and changes in children's temperament over time.Amer J Orthopsychiat 47:568–576, 1977.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Campbell SBG: Mother-infant interaction as a function of maternal ratings of temperament.Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 10:67–76, 1979.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Milliones J: Relationship between perceived child temperament and maternal behaviors.Child Dev 49:1255–1257, 1978.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Martin B: Parent-child relations. In Horowitz FD (Ed),Review of child development research, Volume 4. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hollingshead AB: Two factor index of social position. Unpublished manuscript, 1957.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kogan KL, Gordon BN: Interpersonal behavior constructs: A revised approach to defining dyadic interaction styles.Psychol Repts 36:835–846, 1975.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Horowitz FD: Social reinforcement effects on child behavior. In Hartup W&Smothergill N (Eds),The young child: Reviews of research, Volume 1. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1967.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bell RQ: Contributions of human infants to caregiving and social interaction. In M Lewis, LA Rosenblum (Eds),The effect of the infant on its caregiver. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1974.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Korner AF: Mother-child interaction: One-or two-way street?Social Work 10:47–51, 1965.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betty Nye Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.Division for Disorders of Development and Learning of the Biological Sciences Research Center, Division for Health AffairsUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill

Personalised recommendations