Temperamental surgency and emotion regulation as predictors of childhood social competence

Jessica M. Dollar, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The primary aims of the current study were to longitudinally examine the direct relationship between children's temperamental surgency and social behaviors as well as the moderating role of children's emotion regulation. A total of 90 4.5-year-old children participated in a laboratory visit where children's temperamental surgency was rated by experimenters and children's emotion regulation abilities were assessed. The summer before entry into first grade, children's social behaviors with unfamiliar peers were observed in the laboratory and mothers completed a questionnaire about children's social behaviors. Supporting our hypotheses, results revealed that children high in temperamental surgency developed more negative peer behaviors, whereas children low in temperamental surgency were more likely to develop behavioral wariness with peers. Emotion regulatory behaviors were found to moderate the relation between temperamental surgency and aggression, where high-surgent children who showed high levels of social support seeking were less likely to be rated by their mothers as high in aggression. Furthermore, results revealed that low-surgent children who showed high levels of distraction/self-soothing were more likely to show behavioral wariness around unfamiliar peers, whereas high-surgent children who used more distraction/self-soothing behaviors were rated by their mothers as lower in social competence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-194
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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