Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Elizabeth Hayden

Second Advisor

Dr. Tony Vernon


While psychopathologists posit that temperament plays a critical role in internalizing disorder (i.e., depression and anxiety) risk, the mediators of this risk are poorly understood. Additionally, no previous studies have examined whether temperament traits interact to predict risk mediators. The current study examined longitudinal associations between temperament and social competence in middle childhood, a likely mediator of temperamental risk for psychopathology, using a multi-method approach. A sample of 205 7-year-old children was assessed for temperament using laboratory and parent-report measures. At age 9, these children completed a stress task that entailed social evaluation,before and after which cortisol samples were collected. Children and their parents also completed self- and parent-report measures of social competence. Associations were found between an array of temperament measures and measures of social competence. Positive emotionality moderated the effects of negative emotionality and behavioural inhibition on several indices of social competence, appearing to both buffer and exacerbate the negative effects of other traits. We found partial support for the hypothesis that social competence mediates temperamental vulnerability to psychopathology. Results of this study highlight the importance of child temperament and social competence in internalizing disorder risk in middle childhood.



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