Temperament Pathways to Childhood Disruptive Behavior and Adolescent Substance Abuse: Testing a Cascade Model

  • Michelle M Martel
  • Laura Pierce
  • Joel T. Nigg
  • Jennifer M. Jester
  • Kenneth Adams
  • Leon I Puttler
  • Anne Buu
  • Hiram Fitzgerald
  • Robert A. Zucker


Temperament traits may increase risk for developmental psychopathology like Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disruptive behaviors during childhood, as well as predisposing to substance abuse during adolescence. In the current study, a cascade model of trait pathways to adolescent substance abuse was examined. Component hypotheses were that (a) maladaptive traits would increase risk for inattention/hyperactivity, (b) inattention/hyperactivity would increase risk for disruptive behaviors, and (c) disruptive behaviors would lead to adolescent substance abuse. Participants were 674 children (486 boys) from 321 families in an ongoing, longitudinal high risk study that began when children were 3 years old. Temperament traits assessed were reactive control, resiliency, and negative emotionality, using examiner ratings on the California Q-Sort. Parent, teacher, and self ratings of inattention/hyperactivity, disruptive behaviors, and substance abuse were also obtained. Low levels of childhood reactive control, but not resiliency or negative emotionality, were associated with adolescent substance abuse, mediated by disruptive behaviors. Using a cascade model, family risk for substance abuse was partially mediated by reactive control, inattention/hyperactivity, and disruptive behavior. Some, but not all, temperament traits in childhood were related to adolescent substance abuse; these effects were mediated via inattentive/hyperactive and disruptive behaviors.


Temperament Reactive control Disruptive behavior Substance abuse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle M Martel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Laura Pierce
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joel T. Nigg
    • 3
  • Jennifer M. Jester
    • 4
  • Kenneth Adams
    • 2
    • 4
  • Leon I Puttler
    • 4
  • Anne Buu
    • 4
  • Hiram Fitzgerald
    • 3
  • Robert A. Zucker
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Ann Arbor VA Healthcare SystemAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Addiction Research CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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