Environmental contributions to adolescent delinquency: A fresh look at the shared environment

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Few genetically-informative studies have attempted to explicitly identify the shared environmental (i.e., those environmental influences that contribute to sibling similarity) factors now known to contribute to adolescent delinquency. The current study therefore examined whether the parent-child relationship served as one source of these shared environmental influences. Participants were 610 adoptive and biological families from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS). Parents and adolescents reported on their parent-child conflict and parental involvement with child, and adolescents reported on their own delinquent behaviors. We employed structural equation modeling and supplementary multilevel modeling, finding consistent evidence that the association between delinquency and the parent-child relationship is at least partially shared environmental in origin. Such findings provide an important extension of previous twin studies, as they suggest that passive genotype-environment correlations do not explain earlier findings of shared environmental influences on this association.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-800
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgment This research was funded in part by USPHS Grants # AA11886 and MH066140. Special thanks to Deborah A. Kashy for her invaluable assistance with the multilevel modeling analyses.


  • Adoption design
  • Delinquency
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Shared environment


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