Temperament and Reactions to Frustration in Preschool Classrooms: An Exploration of the Moderating Effects of Emotion Knowledge

Grace Howarth

Advisor: Susanne A Denham, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Timothy W. Curby, Hideko Hamada Bassett

David J. King Hall, #1024A
April 23, 2014, 11:00 AM to 08:00 AM


In this study, I explore how temperament and emotion knowledge combine to predict children’s (N = 337) responses to emotionally arousing problem situations in preschool classrooms. Parents reported on child temperament, whereas emotion knowledge was directly assessed and reactions to frustrating problem situations were observed in the classroom. Children with higher levels of Effortful Control and, separately, higher levels of emotion knowledge showed fewer negative reactions to frustration. The effects of Effortful Control were moderated by emotion knowledge in predicting positive reactions to frustration such that for children with low Effortful Control, emotion knowledge increased their tendency to react positively to frustration. On the other hand, a marginal Effortful Control x emotion knowledge interaction emerged in predicting negative reactions to frustration: compared to children with lower levels of Effortful Control, more emotion knowledge decreased the tendency to react negatively to frustration for children with high Effortful Control. Results suggest that social-emotional interventions may best be targeted at children with low levels of Effortful Control.