Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Second Committee Member

Rebecca J. Bulotsky Shearer

Third Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich May

Fourth Committee Member

Brian D. Doss

Fifth Committee Member

Neena M. Malik


Behaviorally inhibited children are predisposed toward social difficulties, but other environmental and within-child characteristics, such as emotion regulation, also influence social development. This study longitudinally examined: (1) independent influences of behavior inhibition and emotion regulation on future social competence, (2) associations between behavior inhibition and emotion regulation, and (3) the moderating role of emotion regulation on the relation between behavior inhibition and social competence. Participants (N = 257) were enrolled in a larger study of temperament and social development. Maternal-report questionnaires and behavioral observations (ages 2 and 3) were used to assess behavior inhibition. Children’s active and passive regulation strategy usage (age 5) was observed during a laboratory-based sadness-eliciting situation. Lastly, children participated in a free play task with an unfamiliar peer in the laboratory (age 7). Types of initiations, peers’ responses to initiations, and play sophistication during this task were coded to assess social competence. Latent variables for behavior inhibition, emotion regulation, and social competence were created. The structural model was analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results show that highly behaviorally inhibited children are predisposed to utilize less competent regulation strategies in a sadness-eliciting situation. Furthermore, competent sadness regulation was found to influence the relation between early behavior inhibition and future social competence with an unfamiliar peer. Overall study findings elucidate developmental trajectories of risk and resilience, which informs prevention practices, particularly for highly inhibited children who are at-risk for a range of social, emotional, and academic difficulties.


temperament; behavior inhibition; emotion regulation; social competence