Temperamental approach/withdrawal and food neophobia in early childhood: Concurrent and longitudinal associations

Kameron J. Moding, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether temperamental approach/withdrawal processes were concurrently and longitudinally associated with parent ratings and behavioral observations of food neophobia at 4.5 years of age. Additionally, maternal feeding practices were examined as potential moderators of the association between toddler temperament and food neophobia. Data were drawn from a longitudinal study following individuals (n = 82) from infancy through early childhood. At 18 months of age, toddlers were observed in an unfamiliar laboratory setting with an experimenter and their reactions were coded. At 4.5 years of age, the children were again observed in an unfamiliar setting and were also offered three novel foods (lychee, nori, and haw jelly). The number of foods they refused to taste was used as a measure of behavioral neophobia. Finally, mothers reported on their child's food neophobia and temperament, as well as their own feeding practices. As expected, temperament was associated with concurrent measures of food neophobia at 4.5 years of age. Also, low approach children who exhibited high negative affect and low positive affect in response to novelty at 18 months of age had higher levels of food neophobia at 4.5 years of age compared to their peers. Furthermore, evidence emerged to show that these neophobic tendencies in low approach children were strengthened by a maternal pressuring feeding style. Collectively, the results of this study emphasize that children who have low levels of temperamental approach are at a heightened risk for developing food neophobia during childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-662
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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