Temperament and Development

According to Mary Rothbart’s psychobiological model, temperament refers to individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation as expressed through affect, activity, and attention. These differences emerge, with maturation, heredity, and experience, interacting in a manner that results in a unique profile of constitutionally based characteristics.

Reactivity refers to individual response patterns to a broad range of stimuli, and with novel stimuli; for instance, avoidance and approach would be considered reactive tendencies. Reactivity-related constructs are often measured in terms of latency, duration, and intensity parameters of motor, affective, and attentional responses. The amount of time it takes for an infant to smile when playing peek-a-boo is an example of a latency measure of reactivity. In the case of emotional reactivity, behavioral observations often prove to be useful measures. ...

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