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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume 209, 2021, 105177

Trajectories of behavioral avoidance in real time: Associations with temperament and physiological dysregulation in preschoolers

Raha Hassan, Louis A.Schmidt

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada.


Although excessive avoidance has been implicated in mental health problems and socioemotional difficulties, relatively little is known about dynamic changes of avoidance behaviors. We used a latent class growth analysis to examine the temporal course of avoidance behaviors in real time and determined whether the derived classes were distinguishable on temperament and physiological markers of regulation and reactivity (N = 153; Mage = 4.20 years). A three-class solution was found and identified a low, medium, and high increasing avoidance group. The high and increasing avoidance group had the highest physiological reactivity (cortisol reactivity) and shyness, and the lowest physiological regulation (i.e., respiratory sinus arrythmia suppression). High and increasing avoidance may therefore be associated with temperamental and physiological indices of risk implicated in maladjustment and highlight the value of data-driven, group-based approaches for examining dynamic patterns of behavior.

Keywords: Shyness, Regulation, Reactivity, Temperament, Respiratory Sinus Arrythmia, Cortisol.

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