The relationship between temperament and behavioral disorders in a middle childhood clinical population

Stacey Halpern, Pace University


The present investigation extends the literature by looking at temperament with an older clinical sample of children. Temperament was evaluated with the Middle Childhood Temperament Questionnaire. Behavioral symptoms were evaluated with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale for Children. Figure Drawings were examined for emotional indicators using the Koppitz Scoring System. Anxiety was looked at with a checklist of the DSM-III-R criteria for anxiety disorders of childhood. As this was an exploratory study, there were no specific hypotheses. Fifty children seen for psychotherapy in a child and adolescent clinic of a large city hospital were studied. Their parents completed the temperament questionnaire and their therapists completed the behavioral symptom checklist and the anxiety checklist. Each child was asked to create a human figure drawing. Statistical analyses included a series of Pearson Product Moment Correlations and Chi Square tests. With regard to the correlations, there was a significant relationship found between the Total Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) Score and the Activity and Adaptability subscales of the temperament measure. A further analysis of the data using a Chi Square analyses revealed no clinically meaningful trends. The additional measures of anxiety and figure drawings were shown to be positively correlated with the BPRS Total Score. Thus, there was a significant relationship between the child's depiction of his difficulties through his drawing and the therapist's reporting of the child's symptoms. However, there was no significant relationship between temperament as reported by the parent and the child's figure drawing, and little relationship between temperament and behavioral symptoms. The findings of this study extend our understanding of the relationship between temperament and behavior symptoms in a latency aged clinical population. It, in general supports previous literature that suggests in the face of profound environmental disruption, temperament may play a more mediational role rather than a prominant one. Additionally, the study adds support to the literature on the validity of human figure drawings as a clinical tool. Future studies need to investigate the construct of temperament with a more simplistic instrument and attempt to reduce variability by addressing specific diagnostic categories. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Halpern, Stacey, "The relationship between temperament and behavioral disorders in a middle childhood clinical population" (1990). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9034640.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)