Handbook of Temperament

Front Cover
Marcel Zentner, Rebecca L. Shiner
Guilford Press, Oct 1, 2012 - Psychology - 750 pages
2 Reviews

Timely and authoritative, this unique handbook explores the breadth of current knowledge on temperament, from foundational theory and research to clinical applications. Leaders in the field examine basic temperament traits, assessment methods, and what brain imaging and molecular genetics reveal about temperament's biological underpinnings. The book considers the pivotal role of temperament in parent–child interactions, attachment, peer relationships, and the development of adolescent and adult personality and psychopathology. Innovative psychological and educational interventions that take temperament into account are reviewed. Integrative in scope, the volume features extensive cross-referencing among chapters and a forward-looking summary chapter.


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The table of content looked promising as it covered the main topics in temperament research but unfortunately the content didn't meet my expectations. Majority of article circle around the work of developmental psychologists whose models were based on parent observations and not experiments. In other words - the book is again a repetition of multiple books on a child and not adult temperament.
A couple of articles claimed to cover all the models of adult temperament but instead mentioned 6 or so out of 40 models of biologically-based systems. All articles completely missed the 100 year history of experiments on adult temperament within Pavlov, Teplov, Nebylitzyn and Rusalov school. This is surprising since Jeffrey Gray's book (1964) describing these studies in detail was cited in the book, and translations of these studies to English are easily available in Western libraries for several decades.
The activity-specific approach is not presented in any of these articles, even though such approach makes an important distinction between the traits related to physical vs. social vs. mental aspects of behavior.
Moreover, Zuckerman article on adult temperament uses factor-analytic studies of psychometric properties of tests as the final truth about a distinction between temperament traits. It is a pity that such a prominent scientist doesn't see the flaws of such approach: it replaces an experimental investigation of regulatory systems of behavior with an investigation of psychometric properties of lexically-developed tests.
None of the article integrate all existing temperament models in one place (around 40 or so exist), even though several articles have selective comparisons of 6-7 maximum.
In sum, the book is biased in favour of developmental psychologists' or psychometric models of temperament and abandon models based on experiments in neurophysiology. It recycles multiple publications on child temperament and has very little to offer on adult temperament. If a reader would like to learn modern updates on dimensions of temperament, this is not the book to look at: the articles are based on less reliable (and outdated) approaches of using parent observations or lexical material with factor-analysis processing. More reliable approaches using experiments on properties of nervous systems and consistent individual differences are not discussed or compared here. Even a chapter on neurophysiological aspects of temperament is rather naive and misses important relevant findings in neurochemistry.


History Concepts and Measures
Chapter 2Models of Child Temperament
Chapter 3Models of Adult Temperament
Part IIBasic Temperament Traits
Chapter 4The Biography of Behavioral Inhibition
Chapter 5Activity as a Temperament Trait
Chapter 6Positive Emotionality
Chapter 7Anger and Irritability
Part VTemperament in Context
The Differential Susceptibility Paradigm
Chapter 20Temperament and Parenting in Developmental Perspective
Chapter 21Temperament and Peer Relationships
Chapter 22Culture and Temperament
Chapter 23Gender Differences in Temperament
Chapter 24Temperament and the Development of Personality Traits Adaptations and Narratives
Part VIClinical Perspectives on Temperament

Chapter 8Effortful Control
Chapter 9Empathy Prosocial Behavior and Other Aspects of Kindness
Part IIIMeasures of Temperament
Self and OtherReport Measures across the Lifespan
Chapter 11Behavioral Assessment of Temperament
Chapter 12Psychobiological Measures of Temperament in Childhood
Part IVBiological Perspectives on Temperament
Chapter 13Temperament in Animals
Chapter 14Temperament and Evolution
The Role of Prenatal Stress and Substance Use Exposure
Chapter 16Quantitative and Molecular Genetic Studies of Temperament
Chapter 17Neurobiology and Neurochemistry of Temperament in Children
Chapter 18Neurobiology and Neurochemistry of Temperament in Adults
Resilient and Vulnerable Responses to Adversity
Chapter 26Temperament and Internalizing Disorders
Chapter 27Temperament Externalizing Disorders and AttentionDeficitHyperactivity Disorder
Chapter 28Temperament and Physical Health over the Lifespan
Part VIIApplied Perspectives on Temperament
Reconceptualized from a ResponsetoIntervention Framework
Chapter 30Temperament in the Classroom
Reflections on Clinical Practice with the Trait of Sensitivity
Part VIIIIntegration and Outlook
A Synthesis of Major Themes Findings and Challenges and a Look Forward
Author Index
Subject Index

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About the author (2012)

Marcel Zentner, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and Director of the Personality and Assessment Lab. He is Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers in Personality and Social Psychology. His main areas of research are personality, temperament, emotion, test development, and music perception.

Rebecca L. Shiner, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Colgate University and Executive Officer of the Association for Research in Personality. Her research focuses on temperament and personality development in childhood and adolescence, with a particular interest in the pathways through which personality traits contribute to the development of personality disorders and other forms of psychopathology.

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