Goodness-of-fit of early adolescents' temperament in the contexts of home and school

Katherine Buckley Guerin, Fordham University


There has been little research on temperament and the relationship between temperament and environment in early adolescents. The present study measured the temperament attributes of Approach, Flexibility, Mood, and Task Orientation in sixth graders, their psychosocial adjustment, the behavioral demands of their parents and peers, and the discrepancy, or goodness-of-fit, between temperament attributes and those behavioral demands. The relationships between temperament and adjustment and between goodness-of-fit and adjustment also were explored. Findings indicated that for a heterogeneous sample of sixth graders in an urban middle school (N = 76), the attributes of high Flexibility and positive Mood were related to higher self-esteem and lower anxiety. The discrepancy, or goodness-of-fit, between parent and peer demands for high Approach behaviors and the subjects' self-rated Approach behaviors was also related to higher self-esteem and lower anxiety. Parent goodness-of-fit scores for the attribute of Task Orientation were related to self-esteem. For parents and peers, discrepancy scores for Approach rather than attribute of Approach were more strongly related to adjustment. Conceptual and methodological problems with the measurement of parental and peer demands hindered interpretation of goodness-of-fit results, especially statistically significant findings involving Flexibility. Although this study employed a more heterogeneous early adolescent population than had been part of previous research, the results represented limited support for the hypotheses that attributes of temperament, and goodness-of-fit between temperament and the demands of parents at home and peers at school were related to adjustment, and that goodness-of-fit between temperament and demands was more strongly related to adjustment than temperament alone. Future research might investigate whether different attributes of temperament are more relevant than others in specific settings or at particular developmental periods or whether temperament and goodness-of-fit are important factors in adjustment only in clinical populations. The difficulty with the demand form of the temperament measure might be handled by using other kinds of instruments such as family measures to capture goodness-of-fit on the home context. Clearly, temperament and the goodness-of-fit between temperament and environment for early adolescents remain important areas for future study.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Guerin, Katherine Buckley, "Goodness-of-fit of early adolescents' temperament in the contexts of home and school" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9520605.