Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award

4-2014

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Katie Kryski, Ph.D. Candidate

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Hayden

Abstract

Behavioral Inhibition (BI) is a temperamental trait that refers to the avoidance and withdrawal from novel situations, objects, and people. It is considered a risk marker for later anxiety disorders. However, for BI to be a true risk marker it must predate the disorder onset and it should be associated with other well-known risk markers, such as early emerging symptoms. The majority of research exploring BI as a risk marker has largely utilized parent- or self- report measures of BI and has focused on middle to late childhood and adolescence. Further, BI has been linked with social anxiety specifically as well as depression, suggesting that BI subtypes may exist that differentially relate to disorder onset. The present study expanded on the current literature by examining BI and its association with early emerging anxiety symptoms in a community sample of 409 three-year old children. In addition, child sex was explored as a potential moderator of these relationships. Observational ratings of child BI taken from three episodes (stranger task, jumping spider, and risk room) in the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB) were used for analyses. Early emerging symptoms were indexed via the Child Behavior Checklist completed by the child’s primary caregiver. Results revealed an association between high levels of social BI and anxiety related symptoms. High BI expressed during novel situations was associated with higher depressive symptoms in boys only, while high BI expressed in threat related tasks was associated with higher anxious-depressed symptoms in girls. Findings suggest that BI may be a multivariate construct that is differentially related to the development of psychopathology in boys and girls.

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