The relationship between parent-child conflict and adolescent antisocial behavior: Confirming shared environmental mediation

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior studies have indicated that the relationship between parent-child conflict and adolescent antisocial behavior is at least partially shared environmental in origin. However, all available research on this topic (to our knowledge) relies exclusively on parent and/or adolescent informant-reports, both of which are subject to various forms of rater bias. As the presence of significant shared environmental effects has often been attributed to rater bias in the past (Baker et al. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 16:219-235, 2007; Bartels et al. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42:1351-1359, 2003, Twin Research 7:162-175, 2004; Hewitt et al. Behavior Genetics 22:293-317, 1992), it would be important to confirm that findings of shared environmental mediation persist when even examining (presumably more objective) observer-ratings of these constructs. The current study thus examined the origins of the relationship between parent-child conflict and adolescent acting-out behavior, as measured using both observer-ratings and various informant-reports. Participants included 1,199 adopted and non-adopted adolescents in 610 families from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS). Results indicated that parent-child conflict consistently predicts acting-out behavior in adopted adolescents, and moreover, that this association is equivalent to that in biologically-related adolescents. Most importantly, these findings did not vary across parent- and adolescent-reported or observer-ratings of parent-child conflict and acting-out behavior. Such findings argue strongly against rater bias as a primary explanation of shared environmental mediation of the association between parent-child conflict and adolescent antisocial behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-694
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume39
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Adoption study
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Observer-ratings
  • Parenting
  • Shared environment

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