Our lab, the Temperament and Narratives Lab, is led by Dr. Hedy Teglasi and is within the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at the University of Maryland. We investigate young children and early career teachers’ emotional and cognitive processes that contribute to development and mental health. Our ongoing projects use multiple perspectives and measures to address basic temperamental processes of reactivity and self-regulation, evaluate the measurement of the constructs we study and develop new measures, as well as develop and evaluate resources to support individuals experiencing daily stress. More specifically, our projects address the following:
1. Understand basic temperamental processes of reactivity and self-regulation. From an early age, individuals differ in how they react to similar environments based on their temperamental pre-dispositions (e.g. emotional reactivity, shyness, activity level, attention regulation). We are interested in testing models of relations of temperament with constructs relevant to adjustment and mental health. For example, we investigate the link between temperament and children’s understanding of self, others, and the world.
2. Evaluate the measurement of the constructs we study. We are interested in examining various approaches to assessing constructs. For example, in our most recent work, we are seeing stark differences between self-reported stress reactivity and coping and stories about real life coping experiences.
3. Develop and examine measures to explore constructs. We are interested in exploring constructs and measures to increase our understanding and expand the repertoire of tools. Examples of recent and current work: we adapted a popular parent temperament scale for teachers; tested distinction between social competence that only requires situation knowledge and self-control vs. understanding theory of mind (such as intentions).
4. Develop and evaluate resources to support individuals experiencing daily stress (such as new professionals, temperamentally reactive children). As we have begun to examine narratives of beginning teachers, we are learning about the “process” of experiencing and managing stress in situations of uncertainty (being in a new situation) from both internal sources (temperamental stress reactivity) and external sources (day to day demands). We hope to develop an intervention to support positive coping through reflections on meaningful experiences (stories) that may be used by teacher preparation and school psychology programs. We also anticipate planning interventions for young children who are high in temperamental reactivity.