Assessment of Temperament in Developmentally Disabled Infants and Preschoolers

  • Sean C. McDevitt
Part of the Perspectives in Developmental Psychology book series (PDPS)


Temperament, or behavioral style, refers to the how of behavior, as opposed to the what (content) or why (motivation). Temperament assessment captures the stylistic manner in which behavior is carried out by an individual and the way in which this affects interaction with the environment, including significant others (parents, teachers, and peers). There is good evidence that individual differences in behavioral style are present at birth, and methods of measuring temperamental individuality have been developed for infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Although the study of temperamental differences extends back to the time of Hippocrates (Carey, 1981), the recent emphasis on the influence of stylistic aspects of behavior on growth and development dates back to the seminal work of Thomas, Chess, and associates (Thomas, Chess, Birch, Hertzig & Korn, 1963) about 25 years ago. Much remains to be learned about the role of behavioral style in person—environment interaction, particularly with special populations such as the developmentally disabled. At the same time, enough is known to recommend temperamental assessment as a clinically relevant dimension to those who accept the challenge of working with handicapped infants and children and their families.


Downs Syndrome Behavior Disorder Deaf Child Difficult Temperament Infant Temperament 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean C. McDevitt
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Behavioral Associates, Inc.PhoenixUSA

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