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Behavioral Inhibition to the Unfamiliar

Jerome Kagan, J. Steven Reznick, Charlotte Clarke, Nancy Snidman and Cynthia Garcia-Coll
Child Development
Vol. 55, No. 6 (Dec., 1984), pp. 2212-2225
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129793
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129793
Page Count: 14
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Behavioral Inhibition to the Unfamiliar
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Abstract

A group of 43 children classified as either behaviorally inhibited or uninhibited at 21 months were observed at 4 years of age in situations designed to evaluate behavior with an unfamiliar peer, heart rate and heart rate variability to cognitively challenging tasks, reluctance to answer difficult questions, and differential fixation of an active and passive figure in various scenes. At age 4, the 22 formerly inhibited children, compared with the 21 uninhibited children, were socially inhibited with the other child, displayed a higher and more stable heart rate, were more reluctant to guess at difficult problems, and preferentially fixated the passive figure. Additionally, the mothers' descriptions of their children were in accord with the observed behaviors. These data, which are consonant with the work of others, suggest that a tendency toward behavioral inhibition or lack of inhibition to the unfamiliar is moderately stable over the preschool years and possibly influenced by biological factors.

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