Individual differences in emotion regulation and behavior problems in preschool children

Pamela M. Cole, Nathan A. Fox, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Barbara A. Usher, Jean D. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


Emotion regulation (ER) was assessed during a negative mood induction in 79 preschoolers who varied in degree of behavior problems. Facial expressivity during the induction was used to identify 3 ER groups: inexpressive, modulated expressive, and highly expressive. Group differences in ER were significantly related to heart rate and skin conductance. Inexpressive preschoolers had the highest heart rate, lowest vagal tone, and smallest autonomic nervous system (ANS) change during the induction. Highly expressive preschoolers had the slowest heart rate, highest vagal tone, and largest ANS change. The inexpressive and highly expressive groups had more externalizing symptoms than the modulated group at preschool age and at follow-up at the end of 1st grade. Inexpressive preschoolers appeared to have more depressed and anxious symptoms at follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-529
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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