Investigating genetic and environmental contributions to adolescent externalizing behavior in a collectivistic culture: A multi-informant twin study

J. Chen, J. Yu, J. Zhang, X. Li, M. McGue

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18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Little is known about the etiology of adolescents' externalizing behavior (Ext) in collectivistic cultures. We aimed to fill this gap by investigating the genetic and environmental influences on Ext in Chinese adolescents. The etiological heterogeneity of aggression (AGG) and rule breaking (RB) was also examined. Method The study sample included 908 pairs of same-sex twins aged from 10 to 18 years (mean = 13.53 years, s.d. = 2.26). Adolescents' Ext were assessed with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment including Child Behavior Checklist, Teacher Report Form, and Youth Self-Report. Results Univariate genetic analyses showed that genetic influences on all measures were moderate ranging from 34% to 50%, non-shared environmental effects ranged from 23% to 52%, and shared environmental effects were significant in parent- and teacher-reported measures ranging from 29% to 43%. Bivariate genetic analyses indicated that AGG and RB shared large genetic influences (r g = 0.64-0.79) but moderate non-shared environmental factors (r e = 0.34-0.52). Conclusions Chinese adolescents' Ext was moderately influenced by genetic factors. AGG and RB had moderate independent genetic and non-shared environmental influences, and thus constitute etiologically distinct dimensions within Ext in Chinese adolescents. The heritability of AGG, in particular, was smaller in Chinese adolescents than suggested by previous data obtained on Western peers. This study suggests that the collectivistic cultural values and Confucianism philosophy may attenuate genetic potential in Ext, especially AGG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1989-1997
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological medicine
Volume45
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015.

Keywords

  • Chinese adolescents
  • culture
  • externalizing behavior
  • heritability
  • twin

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