Toward a Theory of Infant Temperament

  • H. Hill Goldsmith
  • Joseph J. Campos
Part of the Topics in Developmental Psychobiology book series (TDP)


Why do we have a chapter on temperament in a volume primarily devoted to the concepts of attachment and affiliation? Years ago, such a chapter would have been unthinkable because attachment and temperament appeared to refer to different phenomena. Classic theories of mother-infant relations such as those of Spitz (1965) and Bowlby (1951) leaned in the direction of a “tabula rasa” model of the human infant by proposing that emotional and drive-regulating experiences provided by the mother were crucial for the formation and maintenance of ego functions. The individual differences these theorists were interested in were those resulting from successes and failures of maternal interaction, although on occasion they did invoke genetic and constitutional factors to account for unusual tolerances or susceptibilities to the ill effects of maternal separation. Individual differences in temperament, then, were relegated to a shorthand description of the susceptibility of the “tabula rasa” to experience—how hard or soft the tablet was, so to speak. Little speculation took place about how such differences in the infant could be assessed or whether they played a role in attachment.


Temperament Dimension Temperament Trait Infant Temperament Strange Situation Response Decrement 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Walls, S. Patterns of attachment. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1978.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M., & Wittig, B. Attachment and exploratory behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. In B. Foss (Ed.), Determinants of infant behavior(Vol. 4 ). New York: Barnes & Nobel, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. Allport, G. W. Personality: A psychological interpretation. New York: Holt, 1937.Google Scholar
  4. Allport, G. W. Traits revisited. American Psychologist, 1966, 21, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bates, J. E. The concept of difficult temperament. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 1980, 26, 299–319.Google Scholar
  6. Bates, J. E., Freeland, C. A., & Lounsbury, M. L. Measurement of infant difficultness. Child Development, 1979, 50, 794–803.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bayley, N. Manual for the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. New York: Psychological Corporation, 1969.Google Scholar
  8. Beckwith, L. Prediction of emotional and social behavior. In J. D. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development. New York: Wiley, 1979.Google Scholar
  9. Bell, R. Q. A reinterpretation of the direction of effects in studies of socialization. Psychological Review, 1968, 75, 81–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Block, J. Some reasons for the apparent inconsistency of personality. Psychological Bulletin, 1968, 70, 210–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bowlby, J. Maternal care and mental health. World Health Organization Monograph, No. 2. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1951.Google Scholar
  12. Bowers, K. Situationism in psychology: Analysis and critique. Psychological Review, 1973, 80, 307–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brazelton, T. B. Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. National Spastics Society Monograph. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1973.Google Scholar
  14. Brazelton, T. B. Introduction. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), Organization and stability of newborn behavior: A commentary on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 1978.Google Scholar
  15. Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. A temperament theory of personality development. New York: Wiley, 1975.Google Scholar
  16. Campos, J. J., & Stenberg, C. R. Perception, appraisal, and emotion: The onset of social referencing. In M. Lamb & L. Sherrod (Eds.), Infant social cognition. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1980.Google Scholar
  17. Campos, J. J., Goldsmith, H. H., Iamb, M. E., Svejda, M. J., & Stenberg, C. R. Socioemotional development in infancy. In P. Mussen (Ed.) Carmichael’s manual of child psychology. New York: Wiley, 1983.Google Scholar
  18. Carey, W. B. A simplified method of measuring infant temperament. Journal of Pediatrics, 1970, 77, 188–194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carey, W. B. Measuring infant temperament. Journal of Pediatrics, 1972, 81, 414.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Carey, W. B., & McDevitt, S. C. Revision of the Infant Temperament Questionnaire. Pediatrics, 1978, 61, 735–739.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Carey, W. B., Fox, M., & Devitt, S. C. Temperament as a factor in early school adjustment. Pediatrics, 1977, 60, 621–624.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Cattell, R. B. Description and measurement of personality. New York: World Book, 1946.Google Scholar
  23. Cohen, D. J., Dibble, E., & Grawe, J. M. Father’s and mother’s perceptions of children’s personality. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1977, 34, 480–487.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Diamond, S. Personality and temperament. New York: Harper, 1957.Google Scholar
  25. Dobzhansky, T. Genetics of the evolutionary process. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.Google Scholar
  26. Duffy, E. Activation and behavior. New York: Wiley, 1962.Google Scholar
  27. Ekman, P. Universals and cultural differences in facial expressions of emotions. In J. B. Cole, (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1971. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  28. Ekman, P. Biological and cultural contributions to body and facial movement in the expression of emotions. In A. Rorty (Ed.), Explaining emotions. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  29. Endler, N. S., & Magnusson, D. Interactional psychology and personality. New York: Wiley, 1976.Google Scholar
  30. Escalona, S. K. The roots of individuality: Normal patterns of development in infancy. Chicago: Aldine, 1968.Google Scholar
  31. Eysenck, H. J. The biological basis of personality. Springfield, Ill. Charles C Thomas, 1967.Google Scholar
  32. Fuller, J. L., & Thompson, W. R. Foundations of behavior genetics. St. Louis: Mosby, 1978.Google Scholar
  33. Gesell, A., Sr Ames, L. B. Early evidences of individuality. Human Infant Scientific Monthly, 1937, 45, 217–225.Google Scholar
  34. Goldsmith, H. H. Behavior genetic analyses of early personality (temperament): Developmental perspectives from the longitudinal study of twins during infancy and early childhood. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1978.Google Scholar
  35. Goldsmith, H. H., Campos, J. J., Benson, N., Henderson, C., & East, P. Genetics of infant temperament: Parental report and laboratory observations. Paper presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, New Haven, Connecticut, April 1980.Google Scholar
  36. Goldsmith, H. H., & Gottesman, I. I Origins of variation in behavioral style: A longitudinal study of temperament in young twins. Child Development, 1981, 52, 91–103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gray, J. A. The psychophysiological nature of introversion-extraversion: A modification of Eysenck’s Theory. In V. D. Nebylitsyn & J. A. Gray (Eds.), Biological bases of individual behavior. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  38. Harris, E. L., & Rose, R. H. Personality resemblance in twin children: Comparison of self-description with mother’s ratings. Paper presented at the Second International Congress on Twin Studies, Washington, D. C., August 1977.Google Scholar
  39. Holden, D. Child temperament and teacher expectation: Their interactive effect on children’s school achievement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, 1980.Google Scholar
  40. Horowitz, F. D., Sullivan, J. W., & Linn, P. L. Stability and instability of newborn behavior: The quest for elusive threads. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), Organization and Stability of Newborn Behavior: A commentary on the Brazelton Neonatal Behvioral Assessment Scale. Monographs of the society for research in child development, 1978.Google Scholar
  41. Hutt, S. J., Lenard, H. G., & Prechtl, H. F. R. Psychophysiological studies in newborn infants. In L. P. Lipsitt & H. W. Reese (Eds.), Advances in child development and behavior(Vol. 4 ). New York: Academic Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  42. Izard, C. E. Human emotions. New York: Plenum Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  43. Kagan, J. Change and continuity in infancy. New York: Wiley, 1971.Google Scholar
  44. Kagan, J. Discrepancy, temperament and infant distress. In M. Lewis & L. Rosenblum (Eds.), The origins of fear. New York: Wiley, 1974.Google Scholar
  45. Klein, T. W. Heritability and sample size: Statistical power, population comparisons, and sample size. Behavior Genetics, 1974, 4, 171–189.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Kretschmer, E. Physique and character. New York: Harcourt, 1925.Google Scholar
  47. Korn, S. Temperament and academic achievement. Cited in A. Thomas & S. Chess (Eds.), Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1977.Google Scholar
  48. Lamb, M. E. Unfulfilled promises: A review of The dynamics of psychological developmentby Alexander Thomas & Stella Chess. Contemporary Psychology, 1980, 25, 906–907.Google Scholar
  49. Lewis, M., & Rosenblum, L. A. The effect of the infant on its caregiver. New York: Wiley, 1974.Google Scholar
  50. Lewis, M., & Starr, M. D. Developmental continuity. In J. D. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development. New York: Wiley, 1979.Google Scholar
  51. Lindsley, D. B. Emotion. In S. S. Stevens (Ed.), Handbook of experimental psychology. New York: Wiley, 1951.Google Scholar
  52. Lipton, E. L, Steinschneider, A., & Richmond, J. B. Autonomic function in the neonate: VII. Maturational changes in cardiac control. Child Development, 1966, 37, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lytton, H., Martin N. G., & Eaves, L. Environmental and genetical causes of variation in ethological aspects of behavior in two-year-old boys. Social Biology, 1977, 24, 200–211.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Martin, N. G., Eaves, L. H., Kearsey, M. J., & Davies, P. The power of the classical twin study. Heredity, 1978, 40, 97–116.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Martin, R., & Pfeffer, J. A report on an item analysis, reliability, and validity study of the Thomas, Chess, and Korn Temperament Questionnaire-Parent Form-for children age 3 to 7, Report #2. Unpublished manuscript, University of Georgia, 1980.Google Scholar
  56. Matheny, A. P. Bayleÿ s Infant Behavior Record: Behavioral components and twin analyses. Child Development, 1980, 51, 1157–1167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Matheny, A. P., & Dolan, A. M. Persons, situations, and time: A genetic view view of behavioral change in children. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1975, 32, 1106–1110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. McCall, R. B. Qualitative transitions in behavioral development in the first two years of life. In M. H. Bornstein & W. Kessen (Eds.), Psychological development for infancy: Image to intention. New York: Wiley, 1979.Google Scholar
  59. McNeil, T. F. Temperament revisited: A research-oriented critique of the New York Longitudinal Study of Temperament. Unpublished manuscript, December, 1976.Google Scholar
  60. Mendelson, M. J., & Haith, M. M. The relation between audition and vision in the human newborn. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 1977.Google Scholar
  61. Mischel, W. Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley, 1968.Google Scholar
  62. Mischel, W. Toward a cognitive social learning reconceptualization of personality. Psychology Review, 1973, 80, 252–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nebylitsyn, V. D. Fundamental properties of the human nervous system. New York: Plenum Press, 1972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pavlov, I. P. General types of animal and human nervous activity. Selected works. Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1955 (Originally published, 1935 ).Google Scholar
  65. Pedersen, F. A., Anderson, B. J., & Cain, R. L. A methodology for assessing parental perception of infant temperament. Paper presented at Fourth Biennial Southeastern Conference on Human Development, April 1976.Google Scholar
  66. Persson-Blennow, I., & McNeil, T. F. A questionnaire for measurement of temperament in sixmonth-old infants: Development and standardization. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1979, 20, 1–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Piaget, J. The construction of reality in the child. New York: Basic Books, 1937.Google Scholar
  68. Piaget, J. Psychology of intelligence. Paterson, N.J.: Littlefield, Adams, 1960.Google Scholar
  69. Plomin, R. & Foch, T. A twin study of objectively assessed personality in childhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1980, 39, 680–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Plomin, R., & Rowe, D. C. Genes, environment, and development of temperament in young human twins. In G. M. Gurghardt & M. Bekoff (Eds.), The development of behavior: Comparative and evolutionary aspects. New York: Garland STPM Press, 1978.Google Scholar
  71. Plomin, R., & Rowe, D. C. Genetic and environmental etiology of social behavior in infancy. Developmental Psycholgy, 1979, 15, 62–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Plomin, R., & Rowe, D. A twin study of temperament in young children. The Journal of Psychology, 1977, 97, 107–113.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Rothbart, M. K. Measurement of temperament in infancy. Child Development, 1981, 52, 569–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rothbart, M. K., & Derryberry, D. Development of individual differences in temperament. In M. E. Lamb & A. L. Brown (Eds.), Advances in Developmental Psychology(Vol. 1 ). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Earlbaum, 1981.Google Scholar
  75. Rothbart, M. K., & Derryberry, D. Theoretical issues in temperament. In M. Lewis & L. Taft (Eds.), Developmental disabilities: Theory, assessment and intervention. New York: S. P. Medical and Scientific Books, in apress.Google Scholar
  76. Rowe, D. C., & Plomin, R. Temperament in early childhood. Journal of Personality Assessment, 1977, 41, 150–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Sameroff, A. J. (Ed.). Organization and stability of newborn behavior: A commentary on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Scale. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 1978.Google Scholar
  78. Sameroff, A. J., & Chandler, M. J. Reproductive risk and the continuum of care-taking casuality. In F. D. Horowitz (Ed.), Review of child development research(Vol. 4 ). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  79. Schaffer, H., & Emerson, P. E. Patterns of response to physical contact in early human development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1964, 5, 1–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Scholom, A., & Schiff, G. Relating infant temperament to learning disabilities. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1980, 8, 127–132.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Scholom, A., Zucker, R. A., & Stollack, G. E. Relating early child adjustment to infant and parent temperament. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1979, 7, 297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sheldon, W. H. The varieties of temperament: A psychology of constitution differences. New York: Harper, 1942.Google Scholar
  83. Shirley, M. M. The first two years: A study of twenty-five babies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1933.Google Scholar
  84. Sobesky, W., Holden, D., & Rossman, B. An empirical test of the temperamental goodness-of-fit hypothesis. Unpublished manuscript, University of Denver, 1979.Google Scholar
  85. Sostek, A. M., & Anders, T. F. Relationships among the Brazelton Neonatal Scale, Bayley Infant Scales, and early temperament. Child Development, 1977, 48, 320–323.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Spitz, R. The first year of life. New York: International Universities Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  87. Sroufe, L. A. The coherence of individual development: Early care, attachment, and subsequent developmental issues. American Psychologist, 1979, 34, 834–841.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sroufe, L. A. Emotional development. In preparation, 1982.Google Scholar
  89. Sroufe, L. A., & Waters, E. Attachment as an organizational construct. Child Development, 1977, 48, 1184–1199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Strelau, J. Reactivity and activity style in selected occupations. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 1975, 6, 199–206.Google Scholar
  91. Taraldson, B., Brunnquell, D., Deinard, A., & Egeland, B. Psychometric and theoretical credibility of three measures of infant temperament. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. New Orleans, March 1977.Google Scholar
  92. Teplov, B. V. Problems in the study of general types of higher nervous activity in man and animals. In J. A. Gray (Ed.), Pavolov’s typology. New York: Macmillan, 1964.Google Scholar
  93. Thiessen, D. D. A move toward species-specific analyses in behavior genetics. Behavior Genetics, 1972, 2, 115–126.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Thomas, A., & Chess, S. Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1977.Google Scholar
  95. Thomas, A., & Chess, S. The dynamics of psychological development. New York: Brunner/Mazel,1980.Google Scholar
  96. Thomas, A., Chess, S., & Birch, H. G. Temperament and behavioral disorders in children. New York: New York University Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  97. Thomas, A., Chess, S., Birch, H. G., Hertzig, M, & Korn, S. Behavioral individuality in early childhood. New York: New York University Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  98. Vaughn, B., Deinard, A., & Egeland, B. Measuring temperament in pediatric practice. Pediatrics, 1980, 96, 510–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Waters, E., & Deane, K. Infant-mother attachment: Theories, models, recent data, and some tasks for comparative developmental analysis. In L. Hoffman & R. Gandelman, (Eds.), Parental behavior: Causes and consequences. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1982.Google Scholar
  100. Waters, E. Vaughn, B. E., & Egeland, B. R. Individual differences in infant-mother attachment relationships at age one: Antecedents in neonatal behavior in an urban economically disadvantaged sample. Child Development, 1980, 51, 208–216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Wertheimer, M. Psycho-motor coordination of auditory-visual space at birth. Science, 1961, 134, 1692.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Wilson, R. Personal communication, 1979.Google Scholar
  103. Zuckerman, M. Sensation seeking: Beyond the optimal level of arousal. Hillsdale, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Hill Goldsmith
    • 1
  • Joseph J. Campos
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations