The relations of children's (n = 214 at Time 1; M age = 6 years at Time 1) dispositional
sympathy to adult-reported and behavioral measures of effortful control (EC) and impulsivity
were examined in a longitudinal study including five assessments, each two years apart.
Especially for boys, relatively high levels of EC and growth in EC were related to
high sympathy. Teacher-reported impulsivity was generally modestly negatively related
to measures of teacher-reported sympathy for boys, and a decline in impulsivity was
linked to boys' sympathy. Some findings suggested a positive association between impulsivity
and children's self-reported sympathy. EC, especially when reported by teachers, was
more often a unique predictor of sympathy than was impulsivity. Results generally
support the argument that sympathetic individuals, especially boys, are high in EC
and that EC is a more consistent predictor of sympathy than impulsivity.