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Configural Approaches to Temperament Assessment: Implications for Predicting Risk of Unintentional Injury in Children


  • Thanks to Jodie Plumert for sharing data that were collected in collaboration with David Schwebel.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jack W. Berry, UAB Injury Control Research Center, Suite 401, 933 19th Street South, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-2041. E-mail:


ABSTRACT This study used two configural approaches to understand how temperament factors (surgency/extraversion, negative affect, and effortful control) might predict child injury risk. In the first approach, clustering procedures were applied to trait dimensions to identify discrete personality prototypes. In the second approach, two- and three-way trait interactions were considered dimensionally in regression models predicting injury outcomes. Injury risk was assessed through four measures: lifetime prevalence of injuries requiring professional medical attention, scores on the Injury Behavior Checklist, and frequency and severity of injuries reported in a 2-week injury diary. In the prototype analysis, three temperament clusters were obtained, which resembled resilient, overcontrolled, and undercontrolled types found in previous research. Undercontrolled children had greater risk of injury than children in the other groups. In the dimensional interaction analyses, an interaction between surgency/extraversion and negative affect tended to predict injury, especially when children lacked capacity for effortful control.