Early attention and negative emotionality predict later cognitive and behaviournal function

Katharine R. Lawson, Holly A. Ruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Negative emotionality and poor attention may combine or interact as risk factors in development. Negative emotionality is considered a challenge for self-regulation, whereas good attention is a potential means of self-regulation. In the current study, composites of 1- and 2-year maternal ratings of negative emotionality and global ratings of observed attentiveness were predictors for 3.5-year cognitive and behavioural outcome for 75 children. Results of variable-based regression analyses indicated that early negativity and attentiveness predicted IQ and scores on a hyperactivity index; only negativity predicted a global measure of behaviour problems. Results of person-based analyses for groups formed by median splits on negativity and attention suggested that the More Negative/Less Attentive group had significantly poorer outcome than the other three groups combined (those with one or none of the two risk factors). Comparisons of mean differences also suggested a protective effect of greater attentiveness for more negative as opposed to less negative children for all outcomes. The results extend prior work in providing longitudinal data over the first 3 years and including both cognitive and behavioural outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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