Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 109–123 | Cite as

Structure and Etiology of Co-occurring Internalizing and Externalizing Disorders in Adolescents

  • Victoria E. CosgroveEmail author
  • Soo H. Rhee
  • Heather L. Gelhorn
  • Debra Boeldt
  • Robin C. Corley
  • Marissa A. Ehringer
  • Susan E. Young
  • John K. Hewitt


Several studies suggest that a two-factor model positing internalizing and externalizing factors explains the interrelationships among psychiatric disorders. However, it is unclear whether the covariation between internalizing and externalizing disorders is due to common genetic or environmental influences. We examined whether a model positing two latent factors, internalizing and externalizing, explained the interrelationships among six psychiatric disorders (major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder) in adolescents, and whether there are common genetic and environmental influences on internalizing and externalizing latent factors. Multivariate behavior genetic analyses of data from 1162 twin pairs and 426 siblings ascertained from the general population via the Colorado Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence (CADD) were conducted. We found support for a model positing two latent factors (internalizing and externalizing). These factors were moderately heritable and influenced by significant common genetic and nonshared environmental influences. These findings suggest that co-occurrence of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in adolescents results from both genetic and environmental influences.


Adolescence Psychopathology Comorbidity Genetics Environment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria E. Cosgrove
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
    Email author
  • Soo H. Rhee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Heather L. Gelhorn
    • 3
  • Debra Boeldt
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robin C. Corley
    • 2
  • Marissa A. Ehringer
    • 2
    • 4
  • Susan E. Young
    • 2
  • John K. Hewitt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Division of Substance Dependence, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Colorado Denver Health Sciences ProgramsDenverUSA
  4. 4.Department of Integrative PhysiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  5. 5.VA Palo Alto Health Care SystemStanford University School of MedicinePalo AltoUSA

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