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01-10-2014 | Uitgave 7/2014

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2014

Testing Models of Psychopathology in Preschool-aged Children Using a Structured Interview-based Assessment

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 7/2014
Thomas M. Olino, Lea R. Dougherty, Sara J. Bufferd, Gabrielle A. Carlson, Daniel N. Klein


A number of studies have found that broadband internalizing and externalizing factors provide a parsimonious framework for understanding the structure of psychopathology across childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. However, few of these studies have examined psychopathology in young children, and several recent studies have found support for alternative models, including a bi-factor model with common and specific factors. The present study used parents’ (typically mothers’) reports on a diagnostic interview in a community sample of 3-year old children (n = 541; 53.9 % male) to compare the internalizing-externalizing latent factor model with a bi-factor model. The bi-factor model provided a better fit to the data. To test the concurrent validity of this solution, we examined associations between this model and paternal reports and laboratory observations of child temperament. The internalizing factor was associated with low levels of surgency and high levels of fear; the externalizing factor was associated with high levels of surgency and disinhibition and low levels of effortful control; and the common factor was associated with high levels of surgency and negative affect and low levels of effortful control. These results suggest that psychopathology in preschool-aged children may be explained by a single, common factor influencing nearly all disorders and unique internalizing and externalizing factors. These findings indicate that shared variance across internalizing and externalizing domains is substantial and are consistent with recent suggestions that emotion regulation difficulties may be a common vulnerability for a wide array of psychopathology.

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