THE CONTINUITY OF TEMPERAMENT: BIRTH TO FOUR MONTHS
This study was undertaken to determine if there were continuities in temperament from birth to four months and to determine if difficult or easy temperamental variations at four months could be predicted by neonatal behavioral differences.;The subjects of the study included 23 normal newborns. The babies were delivered with either minimum or no medication and were first-born, breast-fed babies from intact, middle-class, Caucasian families.;The babies were given the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale at days 3-4, 8-9, and 14. The data from the Brazelton were organized into six a priori behavioral clusters and were averaged across the three administrations. Summary scores were also obtained for each baby. Portions of the Carey Infant Temperament Questionnaire were administered at 2, 6, and 12 weeks; the entire questionnaire was administered at 18 weeks. Sufficient data were collected to yield scores in nine temperamental categories. At 18 weeks, the babies' scores were ordered on a continuum from easy to difficult temperamental types by ranking them in accordance with a mean score obtained by averaging the five categories that define difficult or easy functioning.;The results were that four temperamental traits were present at two weeks and maintained continuity until four months: Adaptability, Approach, Activity and Threshold. While the group analysis supported the position of consistency, an analysis of individual patterns showed that a sizeable majority had an individual profile entailing both consistent and variable patterns. On the Brazelton, Optimal Regulation of State (3-14 days) predicted more positive Mood on the 4 month Carey assessment. Range of State on the Brazelton (3-14 days) also predicted higher scores in Adaptability and Approach on the 4 month Carey assessment. In addition, low scores in Range of State and Regulation of State on the Brazelton (3-14 days) were predictive of more difficult temperamental variation at four months on the Carey. Scores obtained on the 14 day Brazelton Assessment were more predictive of later functioning than scores obtained at earlier assessments.;The results obtained in the present study point up the importance of individual variation in the neonatal period, suggest some strategies for intervention, and provide support for the notion that at least some neonatal temperamental traits are inborn and maintain continuity to four months. The results also underscore the predictive validity of the Brazelton Scale and highlight the developmental significance of the timing of neonatal assessments. The significant results obtained in the study seem to be related to methodological improvements in organizing the data obtained from the Brazelton Scale.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 42-04, Section: B, page: 1586.