Children's road-crossing behavior: Emotional decision making and emotion-based temperamental fear and anger

Academic Article


  • Objective Child pedestrian injuries represent a global public health burden. To date, most research on psychosocial factors affecting children's risk of pedestrian injury focused on cognitive aspects of children's functioning in traffic. Recent evidence suggests, however, that emotional aspects such as temperament-based fear and anger/frustration, as well as executive function-based emotional decision making, may also affect children's safety in traffic. This study examined the role of emotions on children's pedestrian behavior. Three hypotheses were considered: (a) emotion-based temperament factors of fear and anger/frustration will predict children's risky decisions and behaviors; (b) emotional decision making will predict risky pedestrian decisions and behaviors; and (c) children's pedestrian decision making will mediate relations between emotion and risky pedestrian behavior. The role of gender was also considered. Methods In total, 140 6-to 7-year-old children (M ¼ 6.7 years, SD ¼ 0.39; 51% girls) participated. Parent-report subscales of Child Behavior Questionnaire measured temperamental fear and anger/frustration. The Hungry Donkey Task, a modified version of Iowa Gambling Task for children, measured children's emotional decision making, and a mobile virtual reality pedestrian environment measured child pedestrian behavior. Results Greater anger/frustration, lesser fear, and more emotional decision making all predicted poorer pedestrian decision making. The mediational model demonstrated that pedestrian decision making, as assessed by delays entering safe traffic gaps, mediated the relation between emotion and risky pedestrian behavior. Analyses stratified by gender showed stronger mediation results for girls than for boys. Conclusions These results support the influence of emotions on child pedestrian behavior and reinforce the need to incorporate emotion regulation training into child pedestrian education programs.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Juzdani MH; Morgan CH; Schwebel DC; Tabibi Z
  • Start Page

  • 1188
  • End Page

  • 1198
  • Volume

  • 45
  • Issue

  • 10