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Parental punitive discipline, negative life events and gene–environment interplay in the development of externalizing behavior

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2007

T. M. M. Button*
Affiliation:
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
J. Y. F. Lau
Affiliation:
National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK
B. Maughan
Affiliation:
MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK
T. C. Eley
Affiliation:
MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK
*
*Address for correspondence: Dr T. M. M. Button, Institute for Behavioral Genetics, 447 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0447, USA. (Email: tanya.button@colorado.edu)

Abstract

Background

To investigate the extent to which three putative ‘environmental’ risk factors, maternal punitive discipline (MPD), paternal punitive discipline (PPD) and negative life events (NLEs), share genetic influences with, and moderate the heritability of, externalizing behavior.

Method

The sample consisted of 2647 participants, aged 12–19 years, from the G1219 and G1219Twins longitudinal studies. Externalizing behavior was measured using the Youth Self-Report, MPD, PPD and exposure to NLEs were assessed using the Negative Sanctions Scale and the Life Event Scale for Adolescents respectively.

Result

Genetic influences overlapped for externalizing behavior and each ‘environmental’ risk, indicating gene–environment correlation. When controlling for the gene–environment correlation, genetic variance decreased, and both shared and non-shared environmental influences increased, as a function of MPD. Genetic variance increased as a function of PPD, and for NLEs the only interaction effect was on the level of non-shared environment influence unique to externalizing behavior.

Conclusion

The magnitude of the influence of genetic risk on externalizing behavior is contextually dependent, even after controlling for gene–environment correlation.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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