Early Childhood Behaviour Questionnaire (ECBQ)

The Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire (ECBQ) was designed to assess temperament in children aged between 1-3 years old. The ECBQ was designed to provide a more comprehensive and detailed assessment of temperament compared to existing measures appropriate for toddlers (Putnam, Gartstein, & Rothbart, 2006). While fine grained instruments existed to assess temperament in infants and older children, an equivalent scale did not exist for measurement of children aged 1-3. The ECBQ was designed to fill this gap (Putman, et al., 2006). Unlike previous temperament scales for toddler aged children that defined temperament solely in terms of individual differences in emotionality in early development, the ECBQ definition of temperament included reactive processes involving not only emotion, but also motor and sensory systems, as well as an emphasis on self-regulatory processes that modulate reactivity (Rothbart, Ahadi, Hershey, & Fisher, 2001).

The ECBQ consists of 201 items and 18 scales. The eighteen scales included in the ECBQ are predominantly “downward extensions” of dimensions contained on the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ; Rothbart, et al., 2001) and “upward extensions” from the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R; Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003). The measure also included 3 scales (social fear, activity level and anger) from an existing measure of toddler temperament, the Toddler Behaviour Assessment Questionnaire (TBAQ; Goldsmith, 1996). The scale items ask parents to report on the frequency of specific behaviours (eg. e.g., how often did your child “sit quietly and watch,” “become sadly tearful”) in frequently occurring contexts (e.g., “When told no”) on a 7 point likert scale ranging from never to always. The measures psychometric properties were tested on two samples (preliminary and final version) from the United States, where the measure was developed.

A principal axis factor analysis revealed a consistent factor structure of the measure across the two samples (Putman, et al., 2006). A three-factor solution was extracted from the analysis. One factor was appeared to represent Negative Affectivity, with primary loadings for Discomfort, Fear, Sadness, Frustration, Soothability (negative loading), Motor Activation, Perceptual Sensitivity, and Shyness. The second factor appeared to represent Surgency/Extraversion, including primary loadings for Impulsivity, Activity Level, High-intensity Pleasure, Sociability, and Positive Anticipation. The third factor appeared to correspond to Effortful Control, and was defined primarily by loadings of Inhibitory Control, Attention Shifting, Low-intensity Pleasure, Cuddliness, and Attention Focusing (Putman, et al., 2006). The same three-factor structure has been found in the development of Russian Slobodskaya, & Kozlova, 2016) and Japanese (Sukigara, Nakagawa, & Mizuno, 2015) versions of the ECBQ.

To measure internal consistency, alpha coefficients were calculated separately for the three age groups in Sample 1 (54 alphas) and the four time points in Sample 2 (72 alphas). The alphas in Sample 2 (the final measure) were similar to those found in Sample 1; 37 were over .80, 5 were below .70, and only 1 (Impulsivity at 18 months) was below .60. Inter-rater reliability of primary and secondary caretakers found the majority of raters were consistent with one another. The most consistent agreement for primary caretakers was found for scales assessing discrete aspects of Negative Affectivity, while the lowest agreement was found for Low-intensity Pleasure, Sociability, Motor Activation, Attention Shifting, and Positive Anticipation (Putman, et al., 2006).  In terms of longitudinal stability, with the exception of the 18 to 36 month correlation for Positive Anticipation, all correlations for primary caregivers are significant at p < .01 (Putman, et al., 2006). The consistency of the findings between primary and secondary caregivers, and over two separate samples, both cross-sectional and longitudinal measurements reflect that the scale is internally valid, but additional work is required, however, to establish the concurrent, predictive, and external validity of the instrument (Putman, et al., 2006).

The authors state with the release of their questionnaires that their focus is on normal development, so the instruments are not designed for use in diagnosis of psychological or psychiatric disorders.  They remain optimistic that they may be helpful in the context of a therapeutic relationship, or in other applied settings but, this has not been empirically demonstrated and thus make no claim about the effectiveness in any other setting other than research.

The ECBQ can be downloaded from https://research.bowdoin.edu/rothbart-temperament-questionnaires/request-forms/downloads/. Permission is required, but very simple and quick request form. I received a response with a password in a number of minutes.


Gartstein, M., A., & Rothbart, M. K. (2003). Studying infant temperament via the Revised Infant Behavior Questionnaire. Infant Behavior and Development, 166, 1–23. Retrieved from: https://research.bowdoin.edu/rothbart-temperament-questionnaires/files/2016/09/2003-ibq-studying-infant-behavior.pdf

Goldsmith, H. H.(1996). Studying temperament via construction of the Toddler Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 67, 218–235.doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01730.x

Putnam, S. P., Gartstein, M. A., & Rothbart, M. K. (2006). Measurement of fine-grained aspects of toddler temperament: The early childhood behavior questionnaire. Infant Behav Dev, 29, 386-401. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2006.01.004

Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at three to seven years: The Children’s Behavior Questionnaire. Child Development, 72, 1394–1408. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00355

Sukigara, M., Nakagawa, A., & Mizuno, R. (2015). Development of a japanese version of the early childhood behaviour questionnaire (ecbq) using cross-sectional and longitudinal data. SAGE Open, 5, 1-11.doi: 10.1177/2158244015590443

Slobodskaya, H., & Kozlova,E. A. (2016). Early temperament as a predictor of later personality. Personality and Individual differences, 99,127-132. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.04.094