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Observed positive parenting behaviors and youth genotype: Evidence for gene–environment correlations and moderation by parent personality traits

  • Caroline W. Oppenheimer (a1), Benjamin L. Hankin (a1), Jessica L. Jenness (a1), Jami F. Young (a2) and Andrew Smolen (a3)...

Abstract

Gene–environment correlations (rGE) have been demonstrated in behavioral genetic studies, but rGE have proven elusive in molecular genetic research. Significant gene–environment correlations may be difficult to detect because potential moderators could reduce correlations between measured genetic variants and the environment. Molecular genetic studies investigating moderated rGE are lacking. This study examined associations between child catechol-O-methyltransferase genotype and aspects of positive parenting (responsiveness and warmth), and whether these associations were moderated by parental personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) among a general community sample of third, sixth, and ninth graders (N = 263) and their parents. Results showed that parent personality traits moderated the rGE association between youths' genotype and coded observations of positive parenting. Parents with low levels of neuroticism and high levels of extraversion exhibited greater sensitive responsiveness and warmth, respectively, to youth with the valine/valine genotype. Moreover, youth with this genotype exhibited lower levels of observed anger. There was no association between the catechol-O-methyltransferase genotype and parenting behaviors for parents high on neuroticism and low on extraversion. Findings highlight the importance of considering moderating variables that may influence child genetic effects on the rearing environment. Implications for developmental models of maladaptive and adaptive child outcomes, and interventions for psychopathology, are discussed within a developmental psychopathology framework.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Benjamin L. Hankin, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, 2155 South Race Street, Denver CO 80208; E-mail: ben.hankin@psy.du.edu.

References

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