The association between parent-child conflict and adolescent conduct problems over time: Results from a longitudinal adoption study

Ashlea M. Klahr, Matt McGue, William G. Iacono, S. Alexandra Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

A handful of prior adoption studies have confirmed that the cross-sectional relationship between child conduct problems and parent-child conflict at least partially originates in the shared environment. However, as the direction of causation between parenting and delinquency remains unclear, this relationship could be better explained by the adolescent's propensity to elicit conflictive parenting, a phenomenon referred to as an evocative gene-environment correlation. In the current study, the authors thus examined the prospective relationship between conduct problems and parent-child conflict in a sample of adoptive families. Participants included 672 adolescents in 405 adoptive families assessed at 2 time points roughly 4 years apart. Results indicated that parent-child conflict predicts the development of conduct problems, whereas conduct problems do not predict increases in parent-child conflict. Such findings suggest that evocative gene-environment correlations are highly unlikely to be an explanation of prior shared environmental effects during adolescence. Moreover, because the adolescents in this study do not share genes with their adoptive parents, the association between conduct problems and parent-child conflict is indicative of shared environmental mediation in particular. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Volume120
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Adoption study
  • Conduct problems
  • Cross-lagged
  • Longitudinal
  • Parenting

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