Becoming Who We Are: Temperament and Personality in Development
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Becoming Who We Are: Temperament and Personality in Development

by Mary K. Rothbart

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What are the basic dimensions of temperament? How does temperament influence children's relationships to their physical and social worlds-and their behavior and adjustment across the lifespan? What are its biological underpinnings? From preeminent researcher Mary Rothbart, this work comprehensively examines the role of temperament in the development of personality and


What are the basic dimensions of temperament? How does temperament influence children's relationships to their physical and social worlds-and their behavior and adjustment across the lifespan? What are its biological underpinnings? From preeminent researcher Mary Rothbart, this work comprehensively examines the role of temperament in the development of personality and psychopathology. In a direct and readable style, Rothbart combines theory and research with everyday observations and clinical examples. She offers new insights on "difficult" children and reviews intervention programs that address temperamental factors in childhood problems.

Editorial Reviews

Choice Reviews
"Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals, including educators and policy makers."--Choice Reviews

"Rothbart has been at the forefront of the scientific study of temperament for over four decades. For that reason alone, a new book from her on the topic will be of interest to those in the field as well as those who wish to know more about the role of temperament in development....This book is well organized, and Rothbart has an engaging writing style. This is never more evident than when she uses case examples such as her observations of her own sons to illustrate the differences in temperament in our development and its key to revealing how we become the individuals we are; and her position serves to both educate and be provocative. If you are interested in studying temperament or indeed human development, this book should be on your reading list."--PsycCRITIQUES
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Howard A Fox, MA (Fielding Graduate University)
Description: This book draws upon the author's distinguished career as a professor of psychology and her interest in temperament, emotions, and social development to provide readers with an understanding and appreciation of the structure and disposition of temperament and the effect that it has on personality development and the ability to make adjustments.
Purpose: The purpose is to explore the dimensions of temperament and how they relate to the biology of the person; how our genetic makeup contributes to our temperament; how temperament influences adjustments to others and the physical world; and to what degree temperament and personality can change or contribute to change in the person. These objectives further not only our scholarly understanding of temperament and social development, but also make the topic accessible to scholars, professionals, and lay readers, especially parents and teachers. The author effectively describes the historical context and understanding of temperament, and the book supports her notion that an understanding of temperament is essential to our understanding of personality and social development.
Audience: It is targeted at undergraduate and graduate students, human development professionals, teachers, and parents. It would also be helpful for life/executive coaches and individuals who are trained to use psychometric tools in their practice.
Features: The author provides a historical and accessible understanding of the structural framework of temperament. The material on temperament covers development in infancy, adolescence, and adulthood, how the child learns and makes meaning out of this learning, and what effect parenting, culture, and the environment have on development. The author presents a broad review of temperament, which gives readers opportunities to extend their understanding. The ratio of old (pre-2000) to new references is approximately 60% - 40%. I would have liked an appendix that went into more detail about specific groundbreaking scholarly work, and why it added to our understanding of temperament and its impact on development.
Assessment: As a professional who embraces the scholar-practitioner approach and pedagogy, I found this book increased my awareness and reflection about temperament. Up until now, my understanding of temperament came from my graduate school training and my certification in the use of the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI), Introduction to Type: A Guide to Understanding Your Results on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 6th edition, Myers, I. B., revised by L. K. Kirby and K. D Myers (CPP, Inc., 1998).
From the Publisher
"One of the wisest, most interesting, and most important books in psychology in recent years. A world-renowned expert, Rothbart brilliantly shows how temperament combines with experience to make us who we are."—Carol S. Dweck, PhD, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

"This outstanding book from the foremost world expert on temperament offers a creative and authoritative synthesis. A broad range of interrelated topics are addressed, including the development and structure of temperament and personality; connections to competence, conscience, and psychopathology; meaning structures; biological and environmental contributions to temperament; and interventions. Rothbart clarifies the multiple levels of factors that contribute to the course of human development. There is something for all developmental scientists and students in this accessible and well-written book."—Nancy Eisenberg, PhD, Regents' Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University
"In this excellent book, Rothbart brings her pioneering theory of temperament into full fruition. Her comprehensive presentation ranges from the history of temperament to its development into adult personality. Rothbart sets forth a clearly documented, dynamic perspective on the relation between temperament and personality. Through thought experiments, she reveals how individual differences develop within the child's social and physical environment. Discussions of psychopathology and interventions are included. This is a book for all researchers and clinicians interested in understanding how we become who we are."—Arnold J. Sameroff, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan 

"Half the battle in child clinical work is deriving an effective formulation of a child's issues. Child clinicians who read this book will come up with more effective formulations. They will think in richer ways about concepts of temperament, how temperament influences and is influenced by the social environment, and implications for the child's social development and sense of self. The book also offers helpful discussions of temperament-informed interventions, such as parent training and executive function training."—John E. Bates, PhD, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University
"While one of the longest-studied topics in psychology, temperament remains one of its toughest nuts to crack. Rothbart leads the reader along a compelling personal and scientific journey during which the many factors that combine to make us unique individuals—biological, social, and developmental—are carefully assessed and elucidated. Rothbart's writing style is clear and engaging. This book not only reflects the current state of the field, but also, I suspect, will shape its future."—Mark H. Johnson, PhD, Professor and Director, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom

"This book provides a comprehensive and substantive basis for understanding temperament, personality, development, and the links among them. Importantly, and a rare accomplishment, it also provides useful insights into how temperamental differences affect individuals' everyday lives, their achievements, and their problems. The book is grounded in solid theory and evidence but reflects Rothbart’s sensitivity to children, parents, and families. She is an eminent developmental researcher who brings real clinical insights to an important topic. A 'must read.'"—Barbara Keogh, PhD, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Education and Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles; author of Temperament in the Classroom

Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
"A thoughtful, scientific, and wise analysis of what we have learned about temperament, development, and personalityand where we have to press further. The three themes of this remarkable book/m-/temperament, development, and personalityare skillfully interwoven to create an account of the development of socioemotional individuality throughout life....[A] well-written and engaging volume."

Product Details

Guilford Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
The Guilford Series on Social and Emotional Development Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Mary K. Rothbart, PhD, is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Oregon. Her research has focused on temperament, attention, emotion, and social development, and she has developed several widely used measures of temperament, including parent and self-report questionnaires, home observations, and laboratory observations. Dr. Rothbart’s work with Michael Posner has explored the cognitive skills, attention networks, and attention genes that support effortful control in children. She has coauthored or coedited numerous books and has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation, the G. Stanley Hall Award for Distinguished Contribution to Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association, and the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development from the Society for Research in Child Development. One of the offshoots of her early temperament research was the founding of Birth to Three, a parent support and education program that has reached thousands of families in the United States and abroad, and which recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Dr. Rothbart is most pleased to have received Birth to Three’s Champion of Children award.

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