Temperamental Change in Adolescence and Its Predictive Role on Anxious Symptomatology

Behav Sci (Basel). 2022 Jun 16;12(6):194. doi: 10.3390/bs12060194.


Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that temperamental traits are not static throughout adolescence. The known links between both reactive and regulatory temperament and anxiety symptoms should be investigated bearing this hypothesis in mind. This study collected self-reported data on behavioral inhibition system (BIS) sensitivity, attentional control (AC), and anxiety symptomatology, from 296 adolescents (64.2% girls; M = 12.96 years at the first assessment, SD = 0.47) every six months, four times over eighteen months. The relationships between temperament factors (AC and BIS sensitivity), considered longitudinally (by means of their trajectories) and anxiety symptoms were investigated using Multigroup Latent Growth Modeling (MLGM), as well as the mediating effect of sex on trajectories and anxiety. BIS sensitivity decreased over time and showed differential patterns across sexes. AC remained relatively stable and we found no sex influence on its trajectory. On the other hand, we observed that the BIS sensitivity trajectory was a significant predictor of anxiety symptomatology at age 15. In conclusion, temperamental changes between the ages of 13 and 15 seem to play a relevant role in explaining subsequent anxiety symptomatology, under the mediating influence of sex.

Keywords: adolescence; anxiety; temperamental change; vulnerability.