Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 633–645 | Cite as

Relationships Between Parental Negativity and Childhood Antisocial Behavior over Time: A Bidirectional Effects Model in a Longitudinal Genetically Informative Design

  • Henrik LarssonEmail author
  • Essi Viding
  • Fruhling V. Rijsdijk
  • Robert Plomin


This study examined the direction and etiology underlying the relationships between parental negativity and early childhood antisocial behavior using a bidirectional effects model in a longitudinal genetically informative design. We analyzed parent reports of parental negativity and early childhood antisocial behavior in 6,230 pairs of twins at 4 and 7 years of age. Results from a cross-lagged twin model contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the bidirectional processes involved in parental negativity and childhood antisocial behavior. Specifically, the findings of this study suggest that the association between parenting and child antisocial behavior is best explained by both parent-driven and child-driven effects. We found support for the notion that parent’s negative feelings towards their children environmentally mediate the risk for child antisocial behavior. We also found evidence of genetically mediated child effects; in which genetically influenced antisocial behavior evoke parental negativity towards the child.


Parenting Antisocial behavior Twins Longitudinal Genetics 



Work on this article started while Henrik Larsson was a postdoctoral fellow at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King’s College London. H.L. was supported by a postdoctoral stipend from Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (project 2005-1356). The authors are indebted to the twins, their parents and teachers. TEDS receives support from the UK Medical Research Council (G0500079). Research into development of antisocial behavior also receives support from the UK Department of Health and Home Office (MRD 12-37). We appreciate helpful comments of Jenae M. Neiderhiser on earlier versions of this article.


  1. Anderson, K. E., Lytton, H., & Romney, D. M. (1986). Mothers’ interactions with normal and conduct-disordered boys: Who affects whom? Developmental Psychology, 22, 604–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arseneault, L., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Taylor, A., Rijsdijk, F. V., & Jaffee, S., et al. (2003). Strong genetic effects on cross-situational antisocial behaviour among 5-year-old children according to mothers, teachers, examiner-observers, and twins’ self-reports. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 832–848.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barkley, R. A., Karlsson, J., Pollard, S., & Murphy, J. V. (1985). Developmental changes in the mother–child interactions of hyperactive boys: Effects of two dose levels of Ritalin. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26, 705–715.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bates, J. E., Petit, G. S., Dodge, K. A., & Ridge, B. (1998). Interaction of temperamental resistance to control and restrictive parenting on the development of externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology, 34, 982–995.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beauchaine, T. P., Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2005). Mediators, moderators, and predictors of 1-year outcomes among children treated for early-onset conduct problems: A latent growth curve analysis. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 73, 371–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burt, S. A., Krueger, R., McGue, M., & Iacono, W. (2003). Parent–child conflict and the comorbidity among childhood eternalizing disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 505–513.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burt, S. A., McGue, M., Krueger, R. F., & Iacono, W. G. (2005) How are parent-child conflict and childhood externalizing symptoms related over time? Results from a genetically informative cross-lagged study. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 145–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Morgan, J., Rutter, M., Taylor, A., & Arseneault, L., et al. (2004). Maternal expressed emotion predicts children’s antisocial behavior problems: Using monozygotic-twin differences to identify environmental effects on behavioral development. Development and Psychopathology, 40, 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins, W. A., Maccoby, E. E., Steinberg, L., Hetherington, E. M., & Bornstein, M. H. (2000). Contemporary research on parenting: The case for nature and nurture. American Psychologist, 55, 218–232.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Danforth, J. S., Barkley, R. A., & Stokes, T. F. (1991). Observations of parent–child interactions with hyperactive children: Research and clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 11(6), 703–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deater-Deckard, K. (2000). Parenting and child behavioral adjustment in early childhood: A quantitative genetic approach to studying family processes. Child Development, 71, 468–484.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deater-Deckard, K., Fulker, D. W., & Plomin, R. (1999). A genetic study of the family environment in the transition to early adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 769–775.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eley, T. C., Lichtenstein, P., & Moffitt, T. E. (2003). A longitudinal behavioral genetic analysis of the etiology of aggressive and non-aggressive antisocial behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 383–402.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freeman, B., Smith, N., Curtis, C., Huckett, L., Mill, J., & Craig, I. W. (2003). DNA from buccal swabs recruited by mail: Evaluation of storage effects on long-term stability and suitability for multiplex polymerase chain reaction genotyping. Behavior Genetics, 33, 67–72.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gardner, F. E. M., Sonuga-Barke, E. J. S., & Sayal, K. (1999). Parents anticipating misbehaviour: An observational study of strategies parents use to prevent conflict with behaviour problem children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 1185–1196.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ge, X., Conger, R. D., Cadoret, R. J., Neiderhiser, J. M., Yates, W., & Troughton, E., et al. (1996). The developmental interface between nature and nurture: A mutual influence model of child antisocial behavior and parent behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 32, 574–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines, 38(5), 581–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodman, R. (2001). Psychometric properties of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 1337–1345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Harlaar, N., Spinath, F., Dale, P., & Plomin, R. (2005). Genetic influences on early word recognition abilities and disabilities: A study of 7-year-old twins. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(4), 373–384.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill, J. (2002). Biological, psychological and social processes in the conduct disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 133–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hinshaw, S. P. (2002). Process, mechanism, and explanation related to externalizing behavior in developmental psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 431–446.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jaffee, S. R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Polo-Tomas, M., Price, T., & Taylor, A. (2004). The limits of child effects: Evidence for genetically mediated child effects on corporal punishment, but not on maltreatment. Developmental Psychology, 40, 1047–1058.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2000). What parents know, how they know it, and several forms of adolescent adjustment: Further support for a reinterpretation of monitoring. Developmental Psychology, 36, 366–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kilgore, K., Snyder, J., Lentz, C. (2000) The contribution of parental discipline, parental monitoring, and school risk to early-onset conduct problems in African American boys and girls. Developmental Psychology, 36, 835–845.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Knafo, A., & Plomin, R. (2006). Prosocial behavior from early to middle childhood: Genetic and environmental influence on stability and change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 147–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Loeber, R., & Farrington, D. P. (2000). Young children who commit crime: Epidemiology, development, origins, risk factors, early interventions, and policy implications. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 737–762.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Loeber, R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1986). Family factors as correlates and predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency. In M. Tonry & N. Morris (Eds.), Crime and justice: An annual review of research, vol. 7 (pp. 29–149). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lyons, M. J., True, W. R., Eisen, S. A., Goldberg, J., Meyer, J. M., & Faraone, S. V., et al. (1995). Differential heritability of adult and juvenile antisocial traits. Archives of General Psychiatry, 52, 906–915.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Lytton, H. (1990). Child and parent effects in boys’ conduct disorder: A reinterpretation. Developmental Psychology, 26, 683–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McGue, M., & Bouchard, T. J. (1984). Adjustment of twin data for the effects of age and sex. Behavior Genetics, 14, 325–343.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moffitt, T. E. (2003). Life-course persistent and adolescence-limited antisocial behavior. In B. B. Lahey, T. E. Moffitt & A. Caspi (Eds.), Causes of conduct disorder and juvenile delinquency (pp. 49–75). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  32. Moffitt, T. E. (2005). The new look of behavioral genetics in developmental psychopathology: gene-environment interplay in antisocial behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 533–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Neale, M. C., Boker, S. M., Xie, G., & Maes, H. H. (2003). Mx: Statistical Modeling (6th ed.). Richmond: VCU.Google Scholar
  34. Neiderhiser, J. M., Reiss, D., Hetherington, E. M., & Plomin, R. (1999). Relationships between parenting and adolescent adjustment over time: Genetic and environmental contributions. Developmental Psychology, 35, 680–692.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Neiderhiser, J. M., Reiss, D., Pedersen, N., Lichtenstein, P., Spotts, E. L., & Hansson, K., et al. (2004). Genetic and environmental influences on mothering of adolescents: A comparison of two samples. Developmental Psychology, 40, 335–351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. O’Connor, T. G. (2002). Annotation: The ‘effects’ of parenting reconsidered: findings, challenges, and applications. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 555–572.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. O’Connor, T. G., Deater-Deckard, K., Fulker, D., Rutter, M., & Plomin, R. (1998). Genotype-environment correlations in late childhood and early adolescence: Antisocial behavioral problems and coercive parenting. Developmental Psychology 34, 970–981.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia.Google Scholar
  39. Pike, A., McGuire, S., Hetherington, E. M., Reiss, D., & Plomin, R. (1996). Family environment and adolescent depression and antisocial behavior: A multivariate genetic analysis. Developmental Psychology, 32, 590–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., McClean, G. E., & McGuffin, P. (2001). Behavioral genetics (4th ed.). USA: Worth Publishers.Google Scholar
  41. Price, T. S., Freeman, B., Craig, I. W., Petrill, S. A., Ebersole, L., & Plomin, R. (2000). Infant zygosity can be assigned by parental report questionnaire data. Twin Research, 3, 129–133.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rhee, S. H., & Waldman, I. D. (2002). Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis of twin and adoption studies. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 490–529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rutter, M., Giller, H., & Hagell, A. (1998). Antisocial behavior by young people. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Rutter, M., Pickles, A., Murray, R., & Eaves, L. (2001). Testing hypotheses on specific environmental causal effects on behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 291–324.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Scarr, S., & McCartney, K. (1983). How people make their own environments: A theory of genotype-environment effects. Child Development, 54, 424–435.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Silberg, J. L., & Eaves, L. J. (2004). Analysing the contributions of genes and parent-child interaction to childhood behavioural and emotional problems: A model for the children of twins. Psychological Medicine, 34, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Taylor, J., Iacono, W. G., McGue, M. (2000). Evidence for a genetic etiology of early-onset delinquency. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 634–643.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Trouton, A., Spinath, F. M., & Plomin, R. (2002). Twins Early Development Study (TEDS): A multivariate, longitudinal genetic investigation of language, cognition and behavior problems. Twin Research, 5, 444–448.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vuchinich, S., Bank, L., & Patterson, G. R. (1992). Parenting, peers, and the stability of antisocial behavior in preadolescent boys. Developmental Psychology, 28, 510–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Webster-Stratton, C., & Hammond, M. (1997). Treating children with early-onset conduct problems: A comparison of child and parent training interventions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 93–109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Webster-Stratton, C., Reid, M. J., & Hammond, M. (2004). Treating children with early-conduct problems: Intervention outcomes for parent, child, and teacher training. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 105–124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik Larsson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Essi Viding
    • 3
    • 4
  • Fruhling V. Rijsdijk
    • 3
  • Robert Plomin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Medical Epidemiology and BiostatisticsKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Woman and Child HealthKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of PsychiatryLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations