Predicting Positive Peer Outcomes for Exuberant Children

Open Access
Palmer, Alyssa Rae
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kristin Buss, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Honors Advisor
  • Exuberance
  • Temperament
  • Effortful Control
  • Peer Acceptance
  • Social Competence
How well a child interacts with their peers can have significant effects on the child’s well being. Relating successfully to others through good social, emotional and cognitive skills (i.e., social competence) can protect children from both internalizing and externalizing problems later in life. Temperamental exuberance - characterized by high levels of positive affect, high activity, and approach behavior - is a predictor of several aspects of social competence. However, it also predicts externalizing problems, which could lead to peer rejection. In the current study, we explored what may be associated with these different outcomes by examining the role of effortful control - the ability to inhibit a prepotent response in order to engage a subdominant response. Participants were drawn from a larger longitudinal study (N = 164). At 18 months and 42 months, measures of exuberance were taken through mother ratings on questionnaires and behavioral observations, respectively. Measure of effortful control at 42 months and 5 years were assessed via mother ratings. Peer Acceptance was taken from an interview conducted after a peer visit consisting of 2 or 3 same-sex, unfamiliar peers at 5 years. Results support that different regulatory abilities can moderate whether children in the same temperament group develop maladaptive or adaptive behaviors.