Profiles of behavioral inhibition and anxiety symptoms during the preschool years

Carina Marques, Maryse Guedes, Manuela Veríssimo, Kenneth H. Rubin, António J. Santos


Behavioral inhibition (BI) during the preschool years can be defined as a biologically-based wariness when exposed to novel people, situations and activities, and has been associated with an increased risk of developing anxiety symptoms. Although BI is not a unitary concept, to date, few studies aimed to characterize different subgroups of children, using multidimensional parental measures, and compare them in terms of anxiety symptoms. This study aimed to identify different profiles of children with BI and explore potential differences concerning anxiety symptoms. One hundred and eight mothers of children with a mean age of 54 months completed the Behavioral Inhibition Questionnaire and the Preschool Anxiety Scale. Two profiles of children were identified: children with high and medium levels of BI. Children with high levels of BI displayed more generalized anxiety, social anxiety and physical injury fears symptoms than children with average BI levels. These differences were of greater magnitude for social anxiety symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of early intervention with children who display high levels of BI as early as the preschool years.


Anxiety symptoms, Behavioral inhibition, Profiles, Preschool children.

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