Development and Psychopathology

Temperament and coping: Advantages of an individual differences perspective

a1 Oregon State University

This paper examines the advantages that arise from an individual differences approach to children's coping and vulnerabilities. It suggests that the basic motivational and attentional systems involved in temperament constitute relatively primitive coping mechanisms. With development, these primitive coping skills are aided by representational and other cortical functions, allowing the coping process to begin before a stressful event and thereby increasing the child's capacity to plan an effective coping option and to enhance self-control. Such an emphasis on motivational and attentional differences allows us to take advantage of children's diverse personalities as “experiments of nature” and to better understand the temperamental patterns that contribute to adaptive and maladaptive outcomes.

c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Professor Douglas Derryberry, Psychology Department, 114 Moreland Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331; E-mail: