Early-but modest-gender differences in focal aspects of childhood temperament. Academic Article uri icon


  • The best evidence for gender differences in child temperament is in the broad areas of effortful control and surgency, and to an extent negative affectivity, domains that encompass temperament dimensions of inhibitory control, activity level, and shyness. We examined the influence of child gender in a methodologically comprehensively assessed twin sample. We used mother, father, and Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB) ratings to assess temperament in 3 year-olds. Boys had higher levels of activity level and lower levels of shyness and inhibitory control than girls across all methods of assessment. Then, more rigorous testing showed that patterns of mean gender differences for opposite-sex twin pairs in our sample were very consistent with overall sample gender differences and the magnitude of these gender differences was consistent across assessment methodology. We then asked: are these more gendered dimensions of temperament associated with one another, and are associations different across gender? The answer to both questions is, yes. Shyer children have lower activity level and higher inhibitory control, and those with higher inhibitory control are less active. Gender differences did appear in the intercorrelations between parent ratings of shyness and inhibitory control with only girls showing significant associations within and across these dimensions.

published proceedings

  • Pers Individ Dif

altmetric score

  • 21.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Gagne, J. R., Miller, M. M., & Goldsmith, H. H.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Gagne, Jeffrey R||Miller, Michele M||Goldsmith, H Hill

publication date

  • July 2013