Continuity And Stability Of Personality Factors In Preschool Children On A Three Year Follow Back Study

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


Purpose. The theoretical concept of continuity and stability of emotional behavior problems in preschool age children was investigated as it relates to behavior patterns and elementary school adjustment. Emotional and behavioral problem preschool children, determined by a preschool screening and detection program, were followed up after three years and compared to a control group. The purposes of this study were: (1) to determine whether children rated as having behavior problems in preschool would continue to be rated as having behavior problems (i.e., rank order continuity) on a three year follow back study compared to a control group of preschool children rated as well adjusted; and (2) to determine whether those children rated in preschool on a rating scale as having a particular behavior pattern continue to be rated with that same behavior pattern (i.e., ipsative continuity).Procedures. Elementary school teachers rated 31 children (identified as "high risk" three years earlier on a preschool screening) on a rating scale for emotional behavior problems. A control group of 31 low risk children were also rated. In addition to the Children's Behavior Questionnaire rating scale scores, grade retentions, achievement test scores and reading levels for each subject were used in the data analysis.Findings. The principal findings of this study were: (1) High risk children continued to be rated as high risk (having behavior and emotional problems) on the follow-up screening. (2) There was a significant difference in the patterns of Antisocial and Neurotic behaviors in the follow-up rating scale, with high risk children obtaining higher scores compared to the low risk children. (3) An analysis of the continuity of behavior patterns on the high risk children found no significant difference between the first and second screenings, i.e., continuity of behavior patterns was demonstrated. (4) There was no continuity shown for specific individual behavior patterns, i.e., ipsative continuity was not demonstrated. (5) High risk children demonstrated lower grade placements, lower achievement test scores, and lower reading levels compared to the low risk children.Discussion and Suggestions. Children identified as high and low risk by scores on a behavior rating scale in a preschool setting continued to be identified in the same manner three years later. Rank order continuity was demonstrated by high risk children, as compared to low risk children, obtaining higher scores on the behavior patterns and total scores on the follow-up rating scale. Ipsative continuity, or continuity of behavior dispositions, was not demonstrated. Another interesting finding is that low risk male children tended to be rated more frequently as high risk (i.e., having behavior problems) on the follow-up rating scale than did low risk female children. The results of the study point out the need: (1) to replicate the study using a larger heterogenous population, and (2) to evaluate and compare another scale to retest the ipsative continuity hypothesis.


Education, Educational Psychology

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