How Shall We Speak of Children's Personalities in Middle Childhood? A Preliminary Taxonomy

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Abstract

Developmental researchers have neglected the study of personality traits in middle childhood, thus leaving unanswered many questions about childhood personality structure. This article presents a developmental framework for understanding personality in middle childhood and critically reviews 5 models of temperament and personality structure in this age range: the models of A. Thomas and S. Chess, A. H. Buss and R. Plomin, M. K. Rothbart, J. Block and J. H. Block, and the Big Five. A number of robust personality dimensions common to these models and the broader developmental and adult personality literatures are then discussed: sociability, social inhibition, dominance, negative emotionality, aggressiveness, prosocial disposition, persistence/attention, mastery motivation, inhibitory control, and activity level. These dimensions represent a preliminary taxonomy of personality traits for exploring questions of individual development in childhood.

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