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 
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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

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