Oppositional defiant disorder dimensions: genetic influences and risk for later psychopathology

Amy J. Mikolajewski, Jeanette Taylor, William G. Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: This study was undertaken to determine how well two oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) dimensions (irritable and headstrong/hurtful) assessed in childhood predict late adolescent psychopathology and the degree to which these outcomes can be attributed to genetic influences shared with ODD dimensions. Methods: Psychopathology was assessed via diagnostic interviews of 1,225 twin pairs at ages 11 and 17. Results: Consistent with hypotheses, the irritable dimension uniquely predicted overall internalizing problems, whereas the headstrong/hurtful dimension uniquely predicted substance use disorder symptoms. Both dimensions were predictive of antisocial behavior and overall externalizing problems. The expected relationships between the irritable dimension and specific internalizing disorders were not found. Twin modeling showed that the irritable and headstrong/hurtful dimensions were related to late adolescent psychopathology symptoms through common genetic influences. Conclusions: Symptoms of ODD in childhood pose a significant risk for various mental health outcomes in late adolescence. Further, common genetic influences underlie the covariance between irritable symptoms in childhood and overall internalizing problems in late adolescence, whereas headstrong/hurtful symptoms share genetic influences with substance use disorder symptoms. Antisocial behavior and overall externalizing share common genetic influences with both the irritable and headstrong/hurtful dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-710
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


  • Oppositionality
  • environmental
  • genetic
  • longitudinal
  • symptom dimensions


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