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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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170. Validating the Dominance Behavioral System (DBS) in childhood: Associations with other traits and symptoms

The dominance behavioral system (DBS) is conceptualized as a biologically based system that accounts for individual differences in dominant and subordinate behaviors, particularly during interpersonal interactions. While the DBS is thought to emerge early in development, little work has been done in measurement development and construct validation of DBS in childhood. Toward providing information concerning relations between DBS and relevant constructs, we examined its temperamental and psychopathological correlates in 48 children (26 boys) at age 3 (Mage=3.46, SD=.29) and age 5/6 (Mage=5.96, SD=.30). At age 3, children were videotaped and coded for dominance (vs. submissive), warmth (vs. cold), arrogance (vs. unassuming), and gregariousness (vs. aloof) while interacting with their caregiver or an experimenter in a naturalistic, laboratory setting. At both ages, parent-reported psychopathology was collected and child temperament was coded during a broader laboratory battery. At age 3, more dominant and gregarious children showed lower behavioral inhibition (BI); more dominant and arrogant children had lower effortful control (EC); greater dominance and gregariousness were associated with higher positive emotionality. Prospectively, greater age 3 arrogance predicted lower age 5 EC. At age 3, more dominant children had fewer internalizing and externalizing problems; more gregarious children had fewer internalizing problems. Greater dominance and arrogance at age 3 predicted greater attentional problems at age 5. In general, observational ratings of childhood DBS were meaningfully related to other constructs, supporting future work using it as a putative transdiagnostic marker of early psychopathology risk.

Pan Liu
Western University

Christina McDonnell
Western University

Kasey Stanton
Western University

Sheri Johnson
University of California Berkeley

Elizabeth Hayden
Western University


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