EAS Temperament Model
KeywordsHarm Avoidance Temperament Dimension Personality Model High Emotionality Temperament Model
The EAS is a developmental, multidimensional, and causal personality model described by Buss and Plomin (1984). The acronym EAS refers to three basic dimensions: emotionality, activity, and sociability. Emotionality, activity, and sociability manifest before socialization, persist later in life, and show substantial heritability.
The EAS Dimensions
The individual characteristics of children are often referred to as temperament, the constitutional early basis of adult personality. However, the dimensions of the EAS model are considered stable and not restricted to a specific age range.
Emotionality is a dimension referring to the quality and intensity of emotional reactions. Individuals with high emotionality tend to react even to low-intensity stimuli with negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness. At the other end of the dimension, individuals are emotionally stable. Emotionality shows similitudes to the adult equivalents of neuroticism and harm avoidance.
Activity is the expenditure of physical energy. Its major components are tempo (i.e. pace of action) and vigor (i.e. responses of greater intensity) and its minor components are endurance and motivation.
Sociability is defined as a preference for being with others rather than alone. Individuals with high sociability seek and are gratified by social rewards. In adult personality models, extraversion has similar characteristics.
Development of the EAS Model
The initial model of Buss and Plomin featured four temperament dimensions: emotionality, activity, sociability, and impulsivity (Buss and Plomin 1975). However, the impulsivity trait did not show sufficient stability and heritability in children and was removed in later versions of the model. The sociability dimension was redefined as shyness, an inhibited behavior with strangers and a tendency to escape from social interaction, and an experimental sociability scale was added.
The EAS Temperament Survey
The EAS temperament survey has three different versions: parent, teacher, and child-rated questionnaires. Each questionnaire has 20 items, five items for each of the four temperament dimensions. The items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not typical) to 5 (very typical). The psychometric properties of the EAS dimensions examined by Boer and Westenberg (1994) showed independence of emotionality, activity, and shyness. The factorial structure of sociability was more ambiguous, raising the possibility that high shyness and low sociability may not be distinguishable in younger children. However, the subsequent study of Mathiesen and Tambs (1999) in Norwegian children aged 18, 30, and 50 months confirmed the usability of the sociability scale. Gender differences were moderate and increased with age, boys showing higher activity and lower shyness compared with girls. Age trends indicated increasing emotionality and shyness and decreasing activity and sociability. The EAS temperament survey has been translated in different languages and has been used in adolescents and adults (Naerde et al. 2004).
Applications of the EAS Model
The EAS model has been applied to the study of behavioral genetics (Saudino et al. 2000) and to the field of normal and abnormal development. As a comprehensive review of this research domain is beyond the scope of this report, a brief focus on longitudinal studies and those having examined temperamental precursors of disorder is provided here.
Regarding depression, a cohort study showed that emotionality at age 6 increased the odds of depression at 18 years by 20% (Bould et al. 2014). In the same cohort, oppositional deviant disorder at 91 months was predicted by emotionality and activity at 38 months, whereas temperamental activity predicted hyperactive-impulsive and combined types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Stringaris et al. 2010).
Familial antecedents of temperament have been examined in a longitudinal assessment of 1903 mother-child pairs. Results show that high emotionality and activity were predicted by family risk, a combination of both maternal depression and low family income (Melchior et al. 2012).
The EAS model has been widely used in developmental research and, unlike other personality models, has shown to be applicable across different age ranges. The most recent four-dimensional model captures stable and primordial forms of individual differences that are involved in trajectories of normal development and psychopathology.
- Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. (1984). Theory and measurement of EAS. In Temperament: Early developing personality traits (pp. 98–130). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development. New York: Wiley-Interscience.Google Scholar
- Stringaris, A., Maughan, B., & Goodman, R. (2010). What’s in a disruptive disorder? Temperamental antecedents of oppositional defiant disorder: Findings from the Avon longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(5), 474–483.Google Scholar
- Melchior, M., Chastang, J. F., de Lauzon, B., Galéra, C., Saurel-Cubizolles, M. J., Larroque, B., & EDEN Mother–Child Cohort Study Group. (2012). Maternal depression, socioeconomic position, and temperament in early childhood: The EDEN mother–child cohort. Journal of Affective Disorders, 137(1), 165–169.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar