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Keywords:

  • parent-child relationship;
  • dyadic interaction;
  • personality;
  • temperament

Abstract

Objective: Individual differences in personality play a major role for functioning in a multitude of important life domains, including one's interpersonal relationships. The present study examined the effects of parental personality and child temperament traits on dyadic parent-child interaction during early childhood. Method: Participants were a community sample of 145 mothers, fathers, and their 3- to 6-year-old children. Child traits were assessed using standardized laboratory paradigms, parents reported on their own traits, and parent-child interaction was assessed observationally. Results: Parental Positive Emotionality, Negative Emotionality, and Constraint subtraits were related to parental responsiveness; the number and type of parental bids and the quality of parental responsiveness were also a function of child Positive Emotionality and Effortful Control subtraits, and, for mothers, child Negative Emotionality subtraits. Child traits were related to their own interaction behaviors; children higher on Positive Emotionality subtraits made more social bids and children higher on Effortful Control subtraits made more influence attempts and fewer negative bids; child Positive Emotionality and Effortful Control subtraits were associated with higher-quality child responsiveness. Conclusions: Findings speak to coherence in personality constructs across the lifespan, with comparable traits measured in adults and early childhood-aged children demonstrating remarkably consistent effects on dyadic interaction behavior.