Temperamental Influences on Risk-taking during Middle Childhood

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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This thesis concerns temperamental qualities and their influence on risk-taking behavior during middle childhood (7–11 years of age). Contemporary research generally agrees upon the notion that temperament constitutes two motivational systems, sensitive to punishment and reward respectively, together with a third system that is responsible for regulating the motivational systems. Risk-taking is generally regarded as the tendency to engage in potentially harmful or dangerous behaviors that at the same time provide opportunities for positive outcomes (Leigh, 1999). Study 1 of this thesis provides a psychometric evaluation of the Temperament in Middle Childhood Questionnaire (TMCQ; Simonds & Rothbart, 2004), one of the temperament questionnaires used in the other two studies. We also tested the ability of the punishment and reward sensitivity factors from the r-RST, as measured by the Sensitivity to Punishment, Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire for Children (SPSRQ-C; Colder et al., 2011), to validate the corresponding factors from the TMCQ. Our second study examines the interaction effects between temperamental traits fear, drive, and activation control on risk-taking. Fear and drive represent the punishment sensitivity system and the reward system respectively, and activation control is the ability to control the reactions in these two systems. Results from this study suggest that the joint influence of the temperamental systems is of great importance in risk-taking, and also that activation control abilities provide a good protection for children prone to risk-taking behavior. Lastly, our third study examines how children’s temperamental qualities interact with incentive contexts in risky decision-making. Results suggest that incentive-related contextual factors have a strong influence on risky decision-making and that temperament modifies this influence, thereby reducing or increasing children’s proneness to take risks. The findings supported predictions based on the revised Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (r-RST; Gray & McNaughton, 2000), regarding how temperament and incentive context jointly determine behavior in risk-taking situations. The results from our studies provide a better understanding of how temperamental qualities interact in children’s risk-taking, and of how the effects of temperament on risky decision-making can be moderated. This is highly relevant information, since research suggests that effortful control abilities are possible to improve through training.
Translated title of the contributionTemperamentets inverkan på risktagande under barndomen
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Psychology
  • Bengtsson, Hans, Supervisor
  • Johansson, Mikael, Supervisor
Award date2017 Feb 16
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-7753-094-7
ISBN (electronic) 978-91-7753-095-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2017-02-16
Time: 13:00
Place: Auditorium, Stora Algatan 4, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Brocki, Karin
Title: Associate professor
Affiliation: Uppsala university

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Free keywords

  • Temperament
  • Risk-taking
  • Decision-making
  • Middle childhood


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