Investigating the development of temperament and character in school-aged children using a self-report measure

Cosimo Urgesi, Manola Romanò, Livia Fornasari, Paolo Brambilla, Franco Fabbro

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Background: Developmental studies of temperament and character dimensions are crucial for a better understanding of how genetic and environmental factors interact in shaping individual personality. However, although several studies have been conducted in adults, a few studies have addressed the evaluation of temperament and character in children. Here, we tested the suitability of self-report evaluation and the developmental trend of temperament and character dimensions among school-aged children using an Italian version of the junior Temperament and Character Inventory (jTCI). Methods: The jTCI was completed by 572 Italian children (292 girls and 280 boys) aged 8 to 12 years. We evaluated the internal consistency of the 7 jTCI scales at each age, the intercorrelations between the scales, and the factorial model of the questionnaires. Furthermore, we tested the differences between the development of the temperament and character dimensions in girls and boys. Results: Although the data from 8-year children showed unacceptably low internal consistency, better reliability was observed for older children. Intercorrelations and factor analysis partially confirmed the hypothesized structure of the jTCI items, with problems observed for some items of the Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, Reward Dependence (RD), and Self-Directedness scales. Furthermore, in keeping with previous studies, girls presented lower scores in Novelty Seeking and higher RD, Self-Directedness, and Cooperativeness scales than did boys, with the between-sex difference in RD becoming larger at older ages. Conclusions: Although the use of the self-administered jTCI in clinical settings should be cautious, it may serve as a useful complementary instrument to describe the development of personality in childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-883
Number of pages9
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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