Adolescent Emotionality and Effortful Control: Core Latent Constructs and Links to Psychopathology and Functioning.

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Temperament is associated with important outcomes in adolescence, including academic and interpersonal functioning and psychopathology. Rothbart’s temperament model is among the most well-studied and supported approaches to adolescent temperament, and contains 3 main components: positive emotionality (PE), negative emotionality (NE), and effortful control (EC). However, the latent factor structure of Rothbart’s temperament measure for adolescents, the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire Revised (EATQ-R; Ellis & Rothbart, 2001) has not been definitively established. To address this problem and investigate links between adolescent temperament and functioning, we used confirmatory factor analysis to examine the latent constructs of the EATQ-R in a large combined sample. For EC and NE, bifactor models consisting of a common factor plus specific factors for some subfacets of each component fit best, providing a more nuanced understanding of these temperament dimensions. The nature of the PE construct in the EATQ-R is less clear. Models replicated in a hold-out dataset. The common components of high NE and low EC where broadly associated with increased psychopathology symptoms, and poor interpersonal and school functioning, while specific components of NE were further associated with corresponding specific components of psychopathology. Further questioning the construct validity of PE as measured by the EATQ-R, PE factors did not correlate with construct validity measures in a way consistent with theories of PE. Bringing consistency to the way the EATQ-R is modeled and using purer latent variables has the potential to advance the field in understanding links between dimensions of temperament and important outcomes of adolescent development.

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