In several studies on children with conduct disorder, difficult temperament in infancy was one of the major variables in the explanation of later aggressive behavior. According to these studies, subjects with a combination of high novelty seeking, low harm avoidance and low reward dependence (NS high, HA + RD low) should be most at risk for the development of disruptive behavior disorders. The Junior Temperament and Character Inventory was given to a clinical sample of 65 adolescent patients of both sexes with the diagnoses of conduct disorder (with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), emotional disorder (anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressive disorder), eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia) or personality disorder (borderline and narcissistic personality disorder). High novelty seeking and low harm avoidance were significantly correlated with externalizing symptoms like aggression and delinquency. In conduct-disordered children and adolescents, we found significantly higher scores of NS compared to the other clinical groups and the normative population, and significantly lower scores of harm avoidance compared to the other clinical groups, but not compared to the normative population. The relative risk of having a conduct disorder was markedly higher in those children and adolescents with elevated scores of novelty seeking. Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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