Temperament (How My Child Usually Acts)

Temperament (How My Child Usually Acts)

Created variables

ACTVTYyyyy. HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: ACTIVITY RAW SCORE
PREDCTyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: PREDICTABILITY RAW SCORE
FEARyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: FEARFULNESS RAW SCORE
AFFECTyyyy. HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: POSITIVE AFFECT RAW SCORE
COMPLYyyyy. HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: COMPLIANCE RAW SCORE
INSECURyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: INSECURE ATTACHMENT RAW SCORE
SOCIAByyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: SOCIABILITY RAW SCORE
DIFFICFyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: DIFFICULTY COMPOSITE RAW SCORE (only in 1986, 1988)
DIFFICyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: DIFFICULTY COMPOSITE RAW SCORE-ABBREV
NEGATVyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: NEGATIVE HEDONIC TONE COMPOSITE RAW SCORE
FRIENDFyyyy.
HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: FRIENDLINESS COMPOSITE RAW SCORE (only in 1986, 1988)
FRIENDyyyy. HOW MY CHILD USUALLY ACTS/TEMPERAMENT: FRIENDLINESS COMPOSITE RAW SCORE-ABBREV

The temperament scales assess aspects of the child's usual behavior, including activity level, affective attributes, attachment styles, compliance, and sociability.  The temperament scales were adapted from Rothbart's Infant Behavior Questionnaire and Kagan's compliance scale. Because the child's temperament is partially a parental perception, the behavioral style of children in the NLSY79 was measured by a set of age-appropriate, maternal-report items and interviewer ratings. Ten distinct scores tap various dimensions of temperament of children between the ages of 0 and 6, although not all dimensions are appropriate for all age groups.

Description of the Temperament Scales

At the time of the design of the initial NLSY79 Child survey design, no single instrument seemed adequate to use for measuring child temperament, within the context of a large national survey administered by lay personnel. As a result, a temperament scale was developed, based on Rothbart's Infant Behavior Questionnaire, Campos and Kagan's Compliance Scale, and other items from Campos.

The temperament scale is divided into three sections, according to the age of the child. The specific (questionnaire) items for each Temperament score and the age appropriateness of the scores are indicated in Appendix B. The maternal scale "How My Infant Usually Acts" addresses the activity, predictability, fearfulness, positive affect, and friendliness of infants below age one. "How My Toddler Usually Acts" addresses the fearfulness, positive affect, and friendliness of one-year-olds. "How My Child Usually Acts" measures the compliance and attachment of two- and three-year-olds and additionally, the friendliness of children aged four through six. For children ages three through six, the interviewer rates the child's shyness when first introduced, shyness at the end of the session, and the child's cooperation, interest and motivation, energy, persistence, and attitude toward and rapport with the interviewer during the assessment.

Administration of the Temperament Scales

From 1986-1998, child temperament questions were administered in the Mother Supplement self-report booklet. In 2000, the items about child temperament were administered in the CAPI Child Supplement for children under age 4. In 2002, the temperament items returned to the Mother Supplement.  Starting in 2006, all Mother Supplement assessments, including temperament, were integrated into a section of the mother's own main Youth questionnaire and were administered for each age-eligible child.  Three items from the sociability scale for children aged 4 to 6 are completed by the interviewer as part of the Child Supplement.

Scoring of the Temperament Scales

A total of ten distinct scores tap various dimensions of temperament, but not all dimensions are appropriate for all ages.  The specific (questionnaire) items for each Temperament score and the age appropriateness of the scores are indicated in Appendix B.

The behavioral tendencies of the child are rated by the mother on a five-point scale, ranging from Almost Never (value of 1) to Almost Always (value of 5).  The scores of the various scales are computed by summing the individual items in the scale where appropriate.  Some items are recoded in reverse before summing. The question names for reverse-coded items are in bold in Appendix B. If any item component of a subscale was missing, that subscore was not computed. 

An important and necessary change was made beginning with the 1990 Temperament scoring. Because in some survey rounds children under the age of four are not administered any of the Child Supplement items, it is necessary to truncate two scales addressed to younger children. These are the difficulty composite score for children between the ages of 8 months and 23 months and the friendliness scale for children under the age two. For researchers requiring comparability over time, abbreviated and unabbreviated versions of the scores for 1986 and 1988 are included in the public use file.

Norms

Since no appropriate national norms are available for this assessment, only raw scores are provided.

Completion Rates for the Temperament Scales

In general, completion rates for this assessment are quite high, often well above 90 percent, primarily because this mother-report assessment is part of the mother's main Youth interview. Table 6 in the Child Assessments--Introduction section contains the completion rate for the Compliance temperament scale in the current survey round.

Reliability and Validity of the Temperament Scales

An evaluation of the reliability and validity of the temperament scales is included in The NLSY Children 1992 (p. 22-24), available on the Research/Technical Reports page. This document examines, within a multivariate context, the extent to which selected temperament scores are independently linked to a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic antecedents while also predicting other child outcomes in subsequent survey rounds. Confirmatory factor analyses of the infant temperament items provide additional support for the five proposed infant temperament scales (Colder, Mott, & Berman, 2002; Lahey, Van Hulle, Keenan, Rathouz, D'Onofrio, Rodgers & Waldman, 2008).

Temperament Scores in the Database

The complete listing of reference numbers for the assessment scores for the current survey round can be found in Table 1 in the Child Assessments--Introduction section.

Areas of Interest ASSESSMENT [scores]
ASSESSMENT ITEMS
MOTHER SUPPLEMENT
CHILD SUPPLEMENT [2000 survey year only]