Longitudinal studies have been conducted investigating the stability of inhibited temperament through childhood.
Scarpa, Raine, Venables and Mednick (1995) longitudinally assessed a sample of 1,795 Mauritian children at three time points; three, eight and eleven years of age. At three years of age the child’s behavioral inhibition was assessed in a laboratory setting. Their behavior was rated by a trained researcher and children were classified as; 1) inhibited (n = 726); 2) middle (n = 360); 3) uninhibited (n = 707). At eight and 11 years of age the children’s social behavior was rated by their teachers.
The results demonstrated that, compared to uninhibited children, children who displayed higher levels of inhibition at age three were more inhibited at age eight and again at age 11. Additionally, those who remained inhibited from age three to eight had the highest inhibition scores at age 11.
Importantly, these results are consistent with previous findings in the literature which showed that the inhibited temperamental style is persistent throughout childhood. In addition, this research shows that this persistence occurs in societies other than the United States.
While research has clearly shown that inhibited temperament is persistent throughout childhood, few studies have examined infant temperament through childhood into adolescence. In a longitudinal investigation, Kagan, Snidman, Kahn and Towsley (2007) examined the impact of inhibited temperament in infancy on adolescent development. Infant temperament was assessed in a laboratory setting at four months of age. Adolescents were then assessed using self report measures between the ages of 14 and 17.
Research has established that infants classified as inhibited continue to exhibit anxious and reserved behavior throughout childhood and into adolescence. As the features of an inhibited temperament mirror the symptoms of social anxiety, the relationship between the two has been examined.
- Scarpa, A., Raine, A., Venables, P., H., & Mednick, S., A. (1995). The stability of inhibited/uninhibited temperament from ages 3 to 11 years in Mauritian children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 23, 5, 607 – 618.
- Kagan, J., Snidman, N., Kahn, V., & Towsley, S. (2007). The preservation of two infant temperaments into adolescence. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. No, 287. Blackwell. Boston.