The impact of childhood temperament on the development of borderline personality disorder symptoms over the course of adolescence

Stephanie D. Stepp, Kate Keenan, Alison E. Hipwell, Robert F. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this study was to characterize the development of BPD symptoms across adolescence by evaluating the fit of several latent variable growth models to annual assessments of symptoms obtained from girls when they were ages 14 through 19 years. After determining the best fitting model, we examined prospective associations between the temperament dimensions of emotionality, activity, low sociability, and shyness and BPD symptom development. Methods: We utilized longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Girls Study; one of the few large-scale, prospective studies of girls (N = 2,450) in the United States. Parent- and teacher-reports of girls' temperament were collected at Wave 1, when girls were ages 5-8 years. Child-reports of BPD symptoms were collected annually beginning at age 14 through 19 years. Results: We found that a free curve slope intercept model provided the best model fit, with the course of BPD symptoms characterized by a large component of inter-individual stability and a smaller component representing within-individual changes across adolescence. Symptoms appeared to peak by age 15, decline through age 18, and remain steady between ages 18 and 19 years. Both parent- and teacher-reports of temperament emotionality, activity, low sociability, and shyness predicted the developmental course of symptoms. Conclusions: BPD symptoms in adolescence reflect trait-like differences between youth with less within-person variability across time. Childhood temperament dimensions of emotionality, activity, low sociability, and shyness predict adolescent BPD symptom development. Parent- and teacher-informants provide unique information about the course of BPD symptoms, underscoring the utility of collecting child assessments using multiple informants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalBorderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 9 2014

Keywords

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Childhood temperament
  • Development
  • Girls

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