Negative Emotionality and Internalizing Behaviors in Preschool Children: Moderating Role of Inhibitory Control
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Negative emotionality in childhood is typically positively associated with internalizing behaviors, whereas inhibitory control is negatively associated with internalizing behaviors. Recent work, however, has also found that inhibitory control paradoxically increases risk for internalizing behaviors in the context of some reactive temperamental styles. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether inhibitory control moderated the association between negative emotionality and prospective internalizing behaviors in typically developing preschoolers (N = 104, 51 girls, Mage = 3.46 years, SDage = 0.19). We found that negative emotionality at T1 was only positively associated with internalizing behaviors at T2 in preschoolers with relatively higher inhibitory control. Our results suggest that relatively high levels of inhibitory control may be less adaptive for children who also have relatively high levels of negative emotionality. Findings are discussed in the context of cognitive overcontrol in understanding risk for internalizing behaviors before formal school entry.
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