Temperament Factors and Dimensional, Latent Bifactor Models of Child Psychopathology: Transdiagnostic and Specific Associations in Two Youth Samples

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Common emotional and behavioral symptoms co-occur and are associated with core temperament factors. This study investigated links between temperament and dimensional, latent psychopathology factors, including a general common psychopathology factor (p factor) and specific latent internalizing and externalizing liabilities, as captured by a bifactor model, in two independent samples of youth. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that temperament factors of negative affectivity (NA), positive affectivity (PA), and effortful control (EC) could serve as both transdiagnostic and specific risks in relation to recent bifactor models of child psychopathology. Sample 1 included 571 youth (average age 13.6, SD =2.37, range 9.3–17.5) with both youth and parent report. Sample 2 included 554 preadolescent children (average age 7.7, SD =1.35, range =5–11 years) with parent report. Structural equation modeling showed that the latent bifactor models fit in both samples. Replicated in both samples, the p factor was associated with lower EC and higher NA (transdiagnostic risks). Several specific risks replicated in both samples after controlling for co-occurring symptoms via the p factor: internalizing was associated with higher NA and lower PA, lower EC related to externalizing problems.

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