Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 3232–3240 | Cite as

Temperament and Behavioral Problems in Young Children: the Protective Role of Extraversion and Effortful Control

  • Begoña Delgado
  • Miguel A. Carrasco
  • Paloma González-Peña
  • Francisco P. Holgado-TelloEmail author
Original Paper


This study examines the relationships between temperament traits (negative affectivity, extraversion and effortful control) and children’s externalized and internalized behavioral problems. The sample was composed of 424 children from the ages of 3–6 years old (60% male). Use of a hierarchical regression analysis revealed direct and interactive effects. Specifically, reactive temperamental traits were found to predict behavioral problems in children: negative affect tended to increase externalizing problems, and extraversion tended to decrease internalizing problems. The regulative temperament trait (“effortful control”) negatively predicted both internalizing and externalizing problems. To explore moderating effects, post‐hoc analyses were conducted using the Johnson–Neyman technique with Hayes’s PROCESS. Our analyses revealed that high levels of negative affect (characterized in our study by a higher load of anger or frustration than of fear or sadness) makes a significant and strong contribution to internalizing problems when effortful control reaches its highest levels. Thus, our results endure the protective role of extraversion as preventing the emergence of internalizing problems, and the protective role of effortful control as preventing the emergence of both, internalizing and externalizing, problems. The results also alert to the potential risk of a combination between high levels of effortful control and high levels of negative affect. Overall findings are discussed with regard to previous and future research.


Young children Temperament Internalizing and externalizing problems Effortful control 


Author contributions:

B. D. wrote the literature review and edited the final manuscript. P. G. P. collected the data and wrote the literature review. M. A. C. wrote the literature review and conducted the data analysis. F.P.H.T conducted the data analysis and wrote the results.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the UNED (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental Psychology (UNED)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatments, Faculty of Psychology (UNED)MadridSpain

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