Observed Emotion Frequency Versus Intensity as Predictors of Socioemotional Maladjustment

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess whether observed emotional frequency (the proportion of instances an emotion was observed) and intensity (the strength of an emotion when it was observed) uniquely predicted kindergartners’ (N = 301) internalizing and externalizing problems. Analyses were tested in a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework with data from multireporters (reports of problem behaviors from teachers and parents) and naturalistic observations of emotion in the fall semester. For observed positive emotion, both frequency and intensity negatively predicted parent- or teacher-reported internalizing symptoms. Anger frequency positively predicted parent- and teacher-reported externalizing symptoms, whereas anger intensity positively predicted parent- and teacher-reported externalizing and parent-reported internalizing symptoms. The findings support the importance of examining both aspects of emotion when predicting maladjustment.

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