Child Psychiatry and Human Development

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 221–239 | Cite as

Positive Emotion, Negative Emotion, and Emotion Control in the Externalizing Problems of School-aged Children

  • Geunyoung Kim
  • Tedra Walden
  • Vicki Harris
  • Jan Karrass
  • Thomas Catron
Original Paper


The present study examined the role of emotion and emotion control in children’s externalizing problems. Third- to sixth-grade children were administered a self-report measure of positive emotion, negative emotion, and emotion control. Peer- and teacher-reported adjustment problems were assessed. Structural equations modeling revealed that negative emotion, especially anger, was important in externalizing problems. Less positive emotion was associated with more externalizing problems. However, when negative emotion was examined in a more differentiated manner (anger, sadness and fear), the effect of positive emotion was diminished. Anger consistently emerged as a significant predictor of behavior problems. No interaction between either positive emotion and emotion control or negative emotion and emotion control was significant. Results showed main effects of each emotion component, with small interaction effects. Methodological and conceptual implications of the findings from the present study are discussed.


Emotion Emotion control Children with externalizing problems Structural equation model 


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Geunyoung Kim, Tedra Walden, Vicki S. Harris, and Jan Karrass, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; Thomas F. Catron, Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University. This research was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health Grants NIMH R01MH58275, NIMH RO1MH54237, and NIMH R18-MH50265/SAMHSA HD5-SM50265 to Vicki Harris, and NIMH training Grant T32-MH18921 and NICHD Grant P30HD15052 to Jan Karrass. We thank John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Steve McFadyen-Ketchum, Bahr Weiss, Scott E. Maxwell, Neils Waller, David Cole, Julie Tapp, James Zerface, and Robert Ping for helpful comment on previous drafts. Thanks also go to the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geunyoung Kim
    • 1
  • Tedra Walden
    • 1
  • Vicki Harris
    • 1
  • Jan Karrass
    • 1
  • Thomas Catron
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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