Behavior Genetics

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 419–426 | Cite as

Changes in heritability across increasing levels of behavior problems in young twins

  • Helene Gjone
  • Jim Stevenson
  • Jon Martin Sundet
  • Dag Erik Eilertsen


The present study addresses the issue of differential heritability with increasing severity of parent-reported internalizing and externalizing behavior problems assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist. The sample includes 526 identical and 389 fraternal samesexed twin pairs from five national birth cohorts, aged 5–6, 8–9, and 12–15 years. Heritability (h2), common environment (c2), and changes in these parameters as a function of proband score were analyzed by multiple regression models (Chernyet al., 1992). Internalizing and externalizing behavior showed significant heritability. A small increment inh2 and a reduction ofc2 with increasing severity of externalizing behavior were independent of sex and age. For internalizing behaviorh2 increased andc2 declined with increasing severity for the 5–6 and 8–9 year olds. Logarithmic transformation of scores loweredh2 and increasedc2, particularly for externalizing behavior. The changes in heritability with severity were nonsignificant for the transformed variables.

Key words

Behavior problems internalizing behavior externalizing behavior differential heritability twins multiple regression 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helene Gjone
    • 1
  • Jim Stevenson
    • 2
  • Jon Martin Sundet
    • 3
  • Dag Erik Eilertsen
    • 3
  1. 1.National Centre for Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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