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Socialization/Developmental psychology/Rothbart: conscience altered depending on the fearfulness of the child. Beyond the inhibitory control provided by fear, later developing Effortful Control makes a crucial contribution to socialization. Effortful Control is defined as the ability to inhibit a prepotent response and to activate a non-prepotent response, to detect errors and to engage in planning. As executive attention skills develop in the second or third years of life and beyond, individuals can voluntarily deploy their attention, allowing them to regulate their more reactive tendencies (Posner and Rothbart 2007(1); Ruff and Rothbart 1996(2)). In situations where immediate approach is not allowed, for example, children can inhibit their actions directly and also limit their attention to the rewarding properties of a stimulus, resisting temptation and delaying gratification.
Research indicates some stability of individual differences in effortful control during childhood. For example, the number of seconds delayed by pre-school children while waiting for rewards that are physically present predicts parents’ reports of children’s attentiveness and ability to concentrate as adolescents (Mischel, Shoda and Peake 1988(3)). A lack of control in pre-school has also been identified as a potential marker for lifecourse persistent antisocial behaviour (Moffitt et al. 1996(4)) and the inattentive-disorganized symptoms of ADHD (Nigg 2006)(5).
1. Posner, M. I. and Rothbart, M. K. 2007. Educating the human brain. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
2. Ruff, H. A. and Rothbart, M. K. 1996. Attention in early development: themes and variations. New York: Oxford University Press
3. Mischel, W., Shoda, Y. and Peake, P. K. 1988. The nature of adolescent competencies predicted by preschool delay of gratification, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54: 6687–96
4. Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., Silva, P. and Stanton, W. 1996. Childhood-onset versus adolescent-onset antisocial conduct problems in males: natural history from ages 3 to 18 years, Development and Psychopathology 8: 399–424
5. Nigg, J. T. 2006. Temperament and developmental psychopathology, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47: 395–422
Mary K. Rothbart, Brad E. Sheese and Elisabeth D. Conradt, “Childhood temperament” in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Philip J. Corr
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009