EASI Temperament Survey
The EASI Temperament Survey, developed by Buss and Plomin, is one of the first instruments developed to measure the temperament of children. It is a 20-item questionnaire with five items for each of the four temperament domains: Emotionality, Activity, Sociability, and Impulsivity. Therefore, the acronym represents the four temperament domains. All items measure broad dispositions and are rated on a five-point scale (Buss and Plomin 1975).
Arnold H. Buss and Robert Plomin, two psychologists, developed a theory of personality pursuing Allport’s definition that “temperament refers to the characteristic phenomena of an individual’s nature, including his susceptibility to emotional stimulation, his customary strength and speed of response, the quality of his prevailing mood, and all peculiarities of fluctuation and intensity of mood, these being phenomena regarded as dependent on constitutional make-up, and therefore largely hereditary in origin” (Allport 1961, cited by Buss and Plomin 1975). Initially, Buss and Plomin listed five criteria that defined temperaments, distinguishing them from other personality traits: inheritance, stability during childhood, retention into maturity, adaptive value, and the fact that they exist in our animal forebears (Buss and Plomin 1975). Later, they emphasized two crucial criteria: inheritance and the presence in early childhood, preferably during the first two years of life (Buss and Plomin 1984). They explained that temperament is concerned more with style than with content, more with expressive behavior than with instrumental (coping) behavior, and more with what a person brings to a role or situation than what either of these demand of him (Buss and Plomin 1975).
Their theory suggests the existence of four temperaments: Emotionality, Activity, Sociability, and Impulsivity. Emotionality in the theory is focused on unpleasant emotions such as distress, fear, and anger. Activity is a person’s energy output, thus equivalent to movement. Sociability is the only temperament that has a directional component such as seeking out other people, preferring their presence, and responding to them. Considering the modest correlation size, Buss and Plomin said that it is not the same trait as shyness (i.e., some sociable people are also shy while some unsociable people are not shy). Impulsivity in the theory reflects inhibitory control, decision time, persistence, and sensation seeking. They explained metaphorically that Impulsivity may be regarded as “brakes” and Emotionality as “engines.” Thus, the EASI was generated deductively from their theory.
The original version (EASI I) is used to measure children’s temperaments. However, they also proposed another version for measuring adults’ temperaments, which slightly revised the EASI to produce a self-reporting inventory for an adult (EASI I for adults). Subsequently, they revised the EASI I slightly to eliminate two overlapping items loaded on more than one scale and to change two items which did not consistently load on the a priori scale. It is called EASI II. Furthermore, they suggested several components for each temperament domain. EASI III, a 54-item EASI survey, includes these expanded components (Buss and Plomin 1975).
In the development of the EASI, Impulsivity was later dropped because they concluded that Impulsivity was composed of various subcomponents that had shown only some replication by factor analyses; moreover, it does not meet their criteria. The new version is called EAS, the acronym for Emotionality, Activity, and Sociability (Buss and Plomin 1984). There are several variations of the EAS: the EAS Temperament Survey for children (parental rating), the EAS Temperament Survey for adults (adult self-report), and the EAS Temperament Survey for children (teacher ratings).
Buss and colleagues (Buss et al. 1973; Buss and Plomin 1975) conducted factorial analyses and scale correlations of EASI I using 139 pairs of same-sex twins as rated by their mothers and revealed that at least three of the five items assigned to each a priori scale loaded highest on the appropriate factor. For both boys and girls, Activity and Impulsivity were related, and Emotionality was moderately related to Impulsivity. A remarkably similar factor solution was obtained by Gibbs et al. (1987) who had administered the survey to 105 mothers of British children aged 1–5 years old.
The EASI has been translated into other languages and studied. For example, Kitamura et al. (2014) studied the psychometric properties of the Japanese version of the EASI. They performed an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of the EASI items in a randomly halved population of Japanese fathers (n = 237) and mothers (n = 412) of children under four years of age. The factor structure was cross-validated by a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Their EFA yielded a two-factor structure but according to the original report, a four-factor structure showed a better fit with the data. In a CFA, the new four-factor model (excluding items with low factor loadings) showed an acceptable goodness-of-fit with the data. These four subscales showed moderate internal consistency. Kitamura et al. concluded that the EASI Survey may be applicable to a Japanese nonclinical child population.
In addition, the original developers administered the EASI I for adults to a college sample of 162 men and 207 women, then confirmed a very similar factor-loading pattern to the children’s version. They concluded that the consistency of factor patterns for children and adult groups, as well as for ratings by others versus self-ratings, is encouraging evidence for factorial stability.
The psychometric properties of the self-reporting version of the EASI II were much better. In a college student sample of 82 men and 89 women, better factorial unity was shown by constructing more discrete factors (Buss and Plomin 1975). The only significant scale relationship for both genders was between Emotionality and Impulsivity.
There are ample worldwide reports of the EAS temperament survey with good psychometric properties (e.g., Bobes Bascarán et al. 2011; Naerde et al. 2004; Spence et al. 2013; Gasman et al. 2002; Mathiesen and Tambs 1999; Boer and Westenberg 1994).
In addition to psychometric studies as well as twin studies deconstructing the heritability of children’s temperaments, the EASI was used in studies on the associations between a child’s temperament and parenting styles (e.g., Coplan et al. 2009; Latzman et al. 2009) and between temperament and reaction to a surgical operation or dental treatment (e.g., Kain et al. 2000; Lundgren et al. 2007).
The EASI has demonstrated excellent factorial stability from childhood to adolescence and across different cultures. Among several kinds of temperament measurement scales, the EASI consists of only 20 simple items, so it is easy to use in both clinical and research settings.
- Buss, A., & Plomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
- Buss, A., & Plomin, R. (1984). Temperament: Early developing personality traits. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Gasman, L., Purper-Ouakil, D., Michel, G., Mouren-Siméoni, M. C., Bouvard, M., Perez-Diaz, F., & Jouvent, R. (2002). Cross-cultural assessment of childhood temperament: A confirmatory factor analysis of the French Emotionality Activity and Sociability (EAS) questionnaire. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 11(3), 101–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar