Junior Eysenck personality questionnaire neuroticism, depressive symptoms and sleep disturbance in elementary school age children

Junior Eysenck personality questionnaire neuroticism, depressive symptoms and sleep disturbance in elementary school age children

Person. indioid.Difl Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 233-235, 1993 Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved Junior Eysenck Copyright 0 0191-8869/93 $6.00 ...

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Person. indioid.Difl Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 233-235, 1993 Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved

Junior Eysenck

Copyright 0

0191-8869/93 $6.00 + 0.00 1993 Pergamon Press Ltd

Personality Questionnaire Neuroticism, depressive symptoms sleep disturbance in elementary school age children


B. E. FISHER University qf New Brunswick, Psychology Department, P.O. Box 5050, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada E2L 4L5 (Received 29 July 1992; received for public&on

30 November 1992)

Summary-Elementary school age children were tested with the Differential Emotions Scale (DES-l 11) and the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (JEPQ). Parental ratings of sleep behavior were obtained using the Children’ Sleep Behavior Scale (CSBS). Depressive symptoms were not associated with any of the sleep measures, nor was the hypothesized relationship between JEPQ Neuroticism and the parasomnia-type sleep behaviors found. In boys, JEPQ Neuroticism was positively related to a bed-time resistance measure, which included sleep onset problem items.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-I 1 I-R) (American Psychiatric Association, 1987) depression in children is assessed using the same criteria as for adults and these criteria include sleep disturbance. Even though the EEG markers found in adult sleep records are absent in children’s records, nevertheless, prepubertal children who are clinically depressed complain about having sleep difficulties and that these difficulties are also reported by their parents (Puig-Antich, 1987). While there is some controversy over the prevalence of clinical depressive disorders in prepubertal children (Kazdin, 1990). there is no doubt that depressive symptoms are observed relatively frequently among elementary school age children in the normal population (Cantwell, 1990; Rutter, 1986). Therefore, it seemed worthwhile to investigate whether children from the normal population with high scores on the Children’s Sleep Behavior Scale (CSBS) (Fisher, Pauley & McGuire, 1989) are characterized by dysphoric symptoms. To investigate this, Izard’s Differential Emotions Scale (DES 111) (Kotsch, Gerbing & Schwartz, 1982) was used. Blumberg and Izard (1985) found that children who scored higher on a depression inventory described themselves as experiencing more sadness, anger, self-directed hostility, and shame than children with low depression scores. Depressive symptoms may change with age and may be related to cognitive development. Izard and Schwartz (1986) have also pointed out the increased prevalence of guilt in depressed children in the 69 year age range. Children characterized as depressed often present a mixed picture; anxiety-type disorders frequently coexist with depressive symptoms (Cantwell, 1990; Puig-Antich, 1982). Furthermore, anxiety related to stress is believed to play an etiological role in the parasomnia type sleep disturbances including sleepwalking, night terrors and nightmares (Dollinger, 1985; Wilson & Haynes, 1985). To investigate this, the Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (JEPQ) (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975) was administered with the expectation that children with a history of parasomnia sleep behaviors and, perhaps, motor sleep behaviors, since the two groups overlap to some extent, would have elevated EPQ Neuroticism scores, in addition to elevated depression scores. The Neuroticism scale taps into one of possibly, five major dimensions of personality characterized at one end by emotional stability and at the other end by lack of emotional control, excessive emotionality and anxiety (Digman, 1990). Eysenck and Eysenck (1975) suggested that Ss high on Neuroticism are likely to have sleep problems. METHOD

Subjects There were 40 children, 20 boys and 20 girls, whose mean age was 10.46 years (SD = 1.54). The parents of children showing a range of sleep behaviors in an earlier sleep survey were contacted by phone to request their participation. The sample could be described as including children with a greater than average number of sleep related disturbances. Hyperactive children were excluded from the study. Procedure As part of another study, the DES I 11 and the JEPQ were completed by the child and the CSBS by a parent, or guardian during a home visit by a-research assistant. Scoring. Bv summing items found to load on four factors (Fisher & McGuire, 1990) it was possible to derive a parasomnia. a motor, a bed-time resistance and a positive affect score.. As well, a fifth score, which was the sum of the parasomnia, motor, and positive affect scores was computed. A measure of depressive symptomatology was obtained by summing the DES 111 anger, sadness, shame, and guilt scores. I



All probabilities are two-tailed. Linearity of relationships and the influence of outliers on Pearson correlations were assessed. Sex differences were not found on Neuroticism, DES or the sleep measures, so analyses were initially carried out with the group as a whole. Neither depression nor Neuroticism was related to any of the sleep behavior scores. JEPQ Neuroticism was positively associated with depression (r = 0.47, P < 0.01). The data was then analyzed separately for boys and girls. It was found that boys with a history of bed-time resistance behaviors had elevated Neuroticism scores (r = 0.61, P < O.Ol), but this relationship was not found in girls. In a previous 233





Table I. Means, and standard

deviations for boys and girls on EPQ, DES and CSBS measures Boys (N = 20)



EPQ P E N L DES (Depression) CSBS Parasomnia Sleep resistance Motor Positive affect Total score

Sample 2 (from Fisher, EPQ P E N L DES CSBS Parasomnia Sleep resistance Motor Positive affect Total score

Girls (N = 20)



2.40 19.69 8.59 II.09

I .80


I .38

2.14 5.04 2.8 I

17.69 IO.51 IO.01

1.30 2.86 3.07 3.53






6.25 3.25 11.60 4.00 18.75

5.59 I .62 4.95 2.4 I 8.60

4.52 2.70 10.30 3.54 16.38

4.51 2.18 6.27 3.44 9.85

Boys (N = 106)

Girls (N =

I 17)

4.51 19.03 9.08 8.92

3.50 2.94 4.24 5.29

2.28 18.26 II.73 II.10

I .96 3.31 4.15 4.65

2.66 4.04 7.44 3.02 12.68

2.99 2.99 4.17 2.23 6.79

3.07 4.05 7.24 3.50 13.41

3.09 3.28 4.45 2.37 6.65


study (Fisher, 1989) using a larger unselected sample of elementary school children in grades 3-5 (N = 223, 106 boys and 117 girls) found the same results. Only in boys was Neuroticism associated with bed-time resistance (r = 0.24, P < 0.05). In Table 1, the means and standard deviations of the EPQ, DES and CSBS measures are presented for boys and girls in both samples, with the exception of the DES, which was not given to the larger sample. Bed-time resistance may be a somewhat misleading label for a cluster of behaviors which includes ease of going to sleep, ease of waking up and complaints of difficulty falling asleep as well as unwillingness to go to bed. This is similar to a group of behaviors described by Dollinger (1985) as immature or resistant. Neuroticism was unrelated to any of the other sleep scores for either sex or either group as a whole. Neither was Extraversion or Psychoticism related to the sleep scores. From the analysis of both data sets we can conclude that children with a history of sleepwalking, sleeptalking, night terrors, nightmares, restless sleep, waking up, waking parents up, pleasant dreams, smiling, laughing in their sleep, teeth grinding or enuresis (a sleep behavior unrelated to the other sleep measures) were not characterized by the personality traits assessed by JEPQ Neuroticism, or depressive symptomatology. Fisher and Rinehart (1990) did not find a relationship either between Neuroticism and a measure of parasomnia-type sleep disturbance in children. The results of this study provide empirical support for Ware and Orr’s (1983) position that the parasomnias are not accompanied by psychopathology. As a cautionary note, however, it is well known in the child psychopathology literature that psychopathology may lie in the eyes of the beholder. Who the informant is can make a difference (Achenbach, McConaughy & Howell, 1987) and in this case, with the exception of sleep behavior, the children were the informants. Further clarification of the roles of personality and psychopathology, in sleep disorders is needed.

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Izard, C. E. & Schwartz, G. M. (1986). Patterns of emotion in depression. In Rutter, M., Izard, C. E. & Read, P. B. (Eds), Depression in young people: Developmental and clinical perspectives. New York: The Guilford Press. Kazdin, A. E. (1990). Childhood depression. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31, 121-160. Kotsch, W. E., Gerbing, D. W. & Schwartz, L. E. (1982). The construct validity of the Differential Emotions Scale as adapted for children and adolescents. In Izard, C. E. (Ed.), Measuring emotions in infanrs and children (pp. 251-278). Puig-Antich, J. (1982). Major depression and conduct disorder in prepuberty. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 21, 118-I 28. Puig-Antich, J. (1987). Psychobiologic markers of prepubertal major depression. Journal of Adolescenf Hea/fh Care, 8, 505-529. Rutter, M. (1986). The developmental psychopathology of depression: Issues and perspectives. In Rutter, M., Izard, C. E. & Read P. B. (Eds), Depression in young people: Developmenral and clinical perspectives. New York: Guilford. Ware, J. C. & Orr, W. C. (1983). Sleep disorders in children. In Walker, C. E. & Roberts, M. C. (Eds), Handbook of clinical child psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Wilson, C. C. & Haynes, S. N. (1985). Sleep disorders. In Bornstein, P. H. & Kazdin, A. E. (Eds), Handbook of clinical behavior therapy with children. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press.