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Effects of Twin Separation in Primary School

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Marieke van Leeuwen*
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. M.van.leeuwen@psy.vu.nl
Stéphanie M. van den Berg
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Toos C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Dorret I. Boomsma
Affiliation:
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
*
*Address for correspondence: M. van Leeuwen, Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Abstract

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We studied the short- and long-term effects of classroom separation in twins on behavior problems and academic performance. Short-term effects were studied at age 7 in twins separated at age 5 and long-term effects at age 12 in twins who had been separated or together most of the time at school. Behavior problems were rated by mothers (Child Behavior Checklist at ages 3, 7 and 12) and teachers (Teacher Report Form at ages 7 and 12). Academic achievement was measured at age 12 using a national academic achievement test (CITO). At age 7, twins from separated pairs had more internalizing and externalizing problems than non- separated twins, as rated by both mothers and teachers. Only for the maternal ratings of internalizing problems, however, could these effects be attributed to the separation itself and not to preexisting problems (at age 3) between separated and nonseparated twins. Long-term effects of separation were significant for maternal and teacher ratings of internalizing and externalizing problems, but these effects could be explained by preexisting differences between separated and nonseparated groups. There were no differences in academic achievement between the separated and nonsepa- rated group. These results suggest that the decision to separate twins when they go to school is based in part on the existing behavioral problems of the twins and that, in the long run, separation does not affect problem behavior or academic achievement. The findings were the same for monozygotic and dizygotic twins.

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