Written by Ioana TINCAS, Oana BENGA, Nathan A. FOX on . Posted in Special issue: Anxiety: Current Perspectives, Guest Editor: Mircea Miclea, Volume X, Nr. 4


Temperament is a fundamental factor in psychological adjustment throughout development. The present paper explores the relation between temperament and the emergence of anxiety disorders in children and young adults. The paper focuses on two of the most prominent models in current temperament research - Kagan's model of behavioral inhibition and Rothbart's multidimensional model of reactivity and self-regulation, and discusses the main differences and points of convergence between them, with respect to assessment and behavioral/biological manifestations. Controversial issues and difficulties related to childhood anxiety disorders (diagnosis, forms of manifestation, comorbidity) are also analyzed. The major aim of this paper is to determine the degree of empirical support for temperament as a risk factor in the development of anxiety disorders, and the specificity of this support. Although straightforward conclusions are difficult to draw, due to the unbalanced representation of the two models in the literature (most of the research was conducted on behavioral inhibition) and the diversity of measurement methods and samples used, we consider that existing results are encouraging; they point to temperament as a promising area of investigation in the search for anxiety risk factors.

KEYWORDS: temperament, behavioral inhibition, childhood anxiety, development, risk factors