Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Susan M. Benner

Committee Members

H. Amos Hatch, Schuyler W. Huck, Christopher Skinner


Individual differences among adults have generally been conceptualized in terms of personality theory and traits and attributed more to life experiences and conditioning than innate dispositions. In contrast, to the more limited extent that individual differences among young children (birth to kindergarten) have been recognized and studied, they have generally been conceptualized in terms of temperament theory and traits, attributed to innate biological programming than to experience.

Recent developments in the field of personality theory begin to blur this distinction, suggesting that individual differences even in young children can be productively studied from the standpoint of personality traits. Specifically, the Five Factor Model of personality has exhibited applicability across a wide range of age groups, cultures, and even species.

The purpose of the present study was to compare and contrast measure of temperament and personality a sample of preschool children. Temperament traits were assessed with a traditional measure, and a new preschool rating instrument was used to assess personality traits from the Five Factor framework. Data were gathered from 103 preschool children.

Preschool teachers answered questions about individual children’s characteristics. Strong significant correlations were found between the temperament trait Emotionality and the personality trait Neuroticism and between the temperament trait Sociability and the personality trait Extraversion. The temperament trait of Activity was also correlated with the personality trait of Extraversion. The overall pattern of correlation data suggest that individual differences in preschool children can be adequately described using the Five Factor Model, and that this framework may effectively subsume traditional theories of temperament.

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