Temperament and family environment in the development of anxiety disorder: Two-year follow-up

Jennifer L. Hudson*, Helen F. Dodd, Heidi J. Lyneham, Nataly Bovopoulous

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Behavioral inhibition (BI) in early childhood is associated with increased risk for anxiety. The present research examines BI alongside family environment factors, specifically maternal negativity and overinvolvement, maternal anxiety, and motherchild attachment, with a view to providing a broader understanding of the development of child anxiety. Method: Participants were 202 children classified at age 4 years as either behaviorally inhibited (N = 102) or behaviorally uninhibited (N = 100). Family environment, BI and child anxiety were assessed at baseline and child anxiety and BI were assessed again 2 years later when participants were 6 years of age. Results: After controlling for baseline anxiety, BI participants were significantly more likely to meet criteria for a diagnosis of social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder at follow-up. Path analysis suggested that maternal anxiety significantly affected child anxiety over time, even after controlling for the effects of BI and baseline anxiety. No significant paths from parenting or attachment to child anxiety were found. Maternal overinvolvement was significantly associated with BI at follow-up. Conclusions: At age 4 years, BI, child anxiety, maternal anxiety, and maternal overinvolvement represent risk factors for anxiety at age 6 years. Furthermore, overinvolved parenting increases risk for BI at age 6, which may then lead to the development of anxiety in later childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1
Pages (from-to)1255–1264
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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