Early temperament and vulnerability to depression and anxiety in late adolescence: the role of parenting

PhD project (3/4 yr research project leading to independent research at the doctorate level)

Dr Carol Joinson, Dr Jon Heron, Jon.Heron@bristol.ac.uk

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Internalising disorders (depression and anxiety) are among the most common mental disorders affecting young people. There is evidence that childhood temperament is linked to increased risk of internalising disorders. Although underlying temperament traits may be associated with increased vulnerability for internalizing problems, it is believed that other factors must co-occur for psychopathology to develop. An important environmental factor that is known to influence development of internalizing problems is negative parenting behavior. Prior research has found a strong association between parenting and internalising disorders. There is growing evidence for a moderating effect of temperament on this association, with the effect of negative parenting on risk of internalising disorders enhanced in children with vulnerable temperament.

Aims & objectives

To examine whether parenting influences the association between childhood temperament and risk for internalizing disorders in adolescence. The project will examine direct effects of negative parenting behaviours from early childhood to adolescence on risk for internalising disorders at 18 years. The project will also focus on potential moderating and mediating effects of parenting on the association between early temperament and internalising disorders at 18 years.


Sample: The proposed project is a secondary data analysis of data from ALSPAC (http://www.alspac.bris.ac.uk).

Depression & anxiety: Participants completed the Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R) at 18 years.
Temperament: The Emotionality Activity Sociability (EAS) Questionnaire was completed by mothers in a questionnaire when their study child was 3, 5 and 6 years old.
Parenting: Maternal reports are available from infancy through childhood and adolescence (up to age 16 years) about the quality of the parent-child relationship.

Statistical analysis: Logistic regression analysis will be used for the analyses with binary outcomes variables (internalizing disorders; parenting measures); linear regression will be used for continuous outcomes (standardized emotionality scores). Mediation models will be tested using structural equation modelling.


Bould et al. (2014). Association between early temperament and depression at 18 years. Depression and Anxiety.

Bould et al. (2013). The Emotionality Activity Sociability Temperament Survey: Factor analysis and temporal stability in a longitudinal cohort. PAID. 54:628–633.

Created on Oct. 1, 2015, 9 a.m.

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