Childhood temperament: Passive gene-environment correlation, gene-environment interaction, and the hidden importance of the family environment

Kathryn Lemery, Karen Kao, Gregory Swann, H. Hill Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biological parents pass on genotypes to their children, as well as provide home environments that correlate with their genotypes; thus, the association between the home environment and children's temperament can be genetically (i.e., passive gene-environment correlation) or environmentally mediated. Furthermore, family environments may suppress or facilitate the heritability of children's temperament (i.e., gene-environment interaction). The sample comprised 807 twin pairs (mean age = 7.93 years) from the longitudinal Wisconsin Twin Project. Important passive gene-environment correlations emerged, such that home environments were less chaotic for children with high effortful control, and this association was genetically mediated. Children with high extraversion/surgency experienced more chaotic home environments, and this correlation was also genetically mediated. In addition, heritability of children's temperament was moderated by home environments, such that effortful control and extraversion/surgency were more heritable in chaotic homes, and negative affectivity was more heritable under crowded or unsafe home conditions. Modeling multiple types of gene-environment interplay uncovered the complex role of genetic factors and the hidden importance of the family environment for children's temperament and development more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-63
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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