Moving Against the World: Life-Course Patterns of Explosive Children

Published

Journal Article

Do ill-tempered children become ill-tempered adults? What are the life-course consequences of such an explosive interactional style? What processes can account for the persistence of maladaptive behavior across time and circumstance? To answer these questions, this study used data from the Berkeley Guidance Study (Macfarlane, Allen, & Honzik, 1954) to identify children with a pattern of temper tantrums in late childhood (ages 8-10) and to trace the continuities and consequences of this behavioral style across the subsequent 30 years of their lives. Life-course continuities in this behavioral style were found for both sexes. Men with histories of childhood tantrums experienced downward occupational mobility, erratic work lives, and were likely to divorce. Women with such histories married men with lower occupational status, were likely to divorce, and became ill-tempered mothers. It is proposed that maladaptive behaviors are sustained through the progressive accumulation of their own consequences (cumulative continuity) and by evoking maintaining responses from others during reciprocal social interaction (interactional continuity). © 1987 American Psychological Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Caspi, A; Elder, GH; Bem, DJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 1987

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 308 - 313

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0012-1649.23.2.308

Citation Source

  • Scopus