Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 111–122 | Cite as

Exploring the Association Between Anxiety and Conduct Problems in a Large Sample of Twins Aged 2–4

  • Alice M. Gregory
  • Thalia C. Eley
  • Robert Plomin
Article

Abstract

Anxiety and conduct problems covary, yet studies have not explored the genetic and environmental origins of this association. We analyzed parent-reported anxiety and conduct problems in 6,783 pairs of twins at 2-, 3-, and 4-years of age. As anxiety and conduct problems were fairly stable across the three ages (average 1-year correlation was .53), ratings from all three were combined. The aggregate anxiety and conduct ratings correlated .33 for boys and .30 for girls. Bivariate genetic analyses indicated fairly low genetic correlations (.31 for boys, .16 for girls), and high shared environmental correlations (1.0 for boys and 0.99 for girls) between anxiety and conduct problems. Most of the phenotypic correlation was accounted for by shared environmental mediation (65% for boys and 94% for girls), indicating that many of the same family environmental factors are responsible for the development of both anxiety and conduct problems.

anxiety conduct twins genes environment 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Anderson, J. C., Williams, S., McGee, R., & Silva, A. (1987). DSM-III disorders in preadolescent children. Archives of General Psychiatry, 44, 69-80.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, P. M., Rapee, R. M., Dadds, M. M., & Ryan, S. M. (1996). Family enhancement of cognitive style in anxious and aggressive children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 187-203.Google Scholar
  3. Barrett, S., & Heubeck, B. G. (2000). Relationships between school hassles and uplifts and anxiety and conduct problems in grades 3 and 4. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21, 537-554.Google Scholar
  4. Behar, L., & Stringfield, S. (1974). A behavior rating scale for the preschool child. Developmental Psychology, 33, 3-66.Google Scholar
  5. Berden, G. F. M., Aalhaus, M., & Verhulst, F. C. (1990). Major life events and changes in the behavioral functioning of children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31, 949-959.Google Scholar
  6. Bowden, C. L., Deutsch, C. K., & Swanson, J. M. (1988). Plasma dopamine-beta-hydroxylase and platelet monoamine-oxidase in attention deficit disorder and conduct disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 171-174.Google Scholar
  7. Dadds, M. R., Barrett, P. M., Rapee, R. M., & Ryan, S. (1996). Family process and child anxiety and aggression: An observational analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 715-734.Google Scholar
  8. Dadds, M. R., & Roth, J. H. (2001). Family processes in the development of anxiety problems. In M. W. Vasey & M. R. Dadds (Eds.), The developmental psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 278-304). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dumas, J. E., Serketich, W. J., & Lafreniere, P. J. (1995). Balance of power—A transactional-analysis of control in mother–child dyads involving socially competent, aggressive, and anxious children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 104-113.Google Scholar
  10. Eley, T. C., Collier, D., & McGuffin, P. (2002). Anxiety and eating disorders. In P. McGuffin, I. I. Gottesman, & M. Owen (Eds.), Psychiatric genetics and genomics (pp. 303-340). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Eley, T. C., & Gregory, A. M. (in press). Behavioral genetics. In T. Morris & J. March (Eds.), Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  12. Eley, T. C., Lichtenstein, P., & Moffitt, T. E. (2003). A longitudinal behavioral genetic analysis of the etiology of aggressive and nonaggressive antisocial behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 383-402.Google Scholar
  13. Eley, T. C., & Stevenson, J. (1999). Using genetic analyses to clarify the distinction between depressive and anxious symptoms in children and adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27, 105-114.Google Scholar
  14. Farrington, D. P. (1995). The development of offending and antisocial behaviour from childhood: Key findings from the Cambridge study in delinquent development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 360, 929-964.Google Scholar
  15. Fergusson, D. M., & Horwood, L. J. (1993). The structure, stability and correlations of the trait components of conduct disorder, attention deficit and anxiety/withdrawal reports. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34, 749-766.Google Scholar
  16. Gjone, H., & Stevenson, J. (1997). The association between internalizing and externalizing behavior in childhood and early adolescence: Genetic or environmental common influences? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25, 277-286.Google Scholar
  17. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581-586.Google Scholar
  18. Hogg, C., Rutter, M., & Richman, N. (1997). Emotional and behavioural problems in children. In I. Insclare (Ed.), Child psychology portfolio. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  19. Jaffee, S. R., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Taylor, A., & Arseneault, L. (2002). Influence of adult domestic violence on children's internalizing and externalizing problems: An environmentally informative twin study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41, 1095-1103.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, J. G., Cohen, P., Dohrenwend, B. P., Link, B. G., & Brook, J. S. (1999). A longitudinal investigation of social causation and social selection processes involved in the association between socioeconomic status and psychiatric disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 490-499.Google Scholar
  21. Kendler, K. S., Neale, M. C., Kessler, R. C., Heath, A. C., & Eaves, L. J. (1993). A test of the equal-environment assumption in twin studies of psychiatric illness. Behavior Genetics, 23, 21-27.Google Scholar
  22. Kendler, K. S., Prescott, C. A., Neale, M. C., & Pedersen, N. L. (1997). Temperance Board registration for alcohol abuse in a national sample of Swedish male twins, born 1902 to 1949. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 178-184.Google Scholar
  23. Lewis, M., Feiring, C., McGuffog, C., & Jaskir, J. (1984). Predicting psychopathology in 6-year-olds from early social-relations. Child Development, 55, 123-136.Google Scholar
  24. Linver, M. R., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Kohen, D. E. (2002). Family processes as pathways from income to young children's development. Developmental Psychology, 38, 719-734.Google Scholar
  25. McCartney, K., Harris, M. J., & Bernieri, F. (1990). Growing up and growing apart: A developmental meta-analysis of twin studies. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 226-237.Google Scholar
  26. Miczek, K. A., Fish, E. W., de Bold, J. F., & de Almeida, R. M. M. (2002). Social and neural determinants of aggressive behavior: Pharmacotherapeutic targets at serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid systems. Psychopharmacology, 163, 434-458.Google Scholar
  27. Neale, M. C. (1997). Mx: Statistical modeling (4th ed.). Box 126 MCV, Richmond, VA 23298: Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  28. Neale, M. C., & Cardon, L. R. (1992). Methodology for genetic studies of twins and families. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  29. Neale, M. C., & Kendler, K. S. (1995). Models of comorbidity for multifactorial disorders. American Journal of Human Genetics, 57, 935-953.Google Scholar
  30. O'Connor, T. G., McGuire, S., Reiss, D., Hetherington, E. M., & Plomin, R. (1998). Co-occurrence of depressive symptoms and antisocial behavior in adolescence: A common genetic liability. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 27-37.Google Scholar
  31. O'Connor, T. G., Neiderhiser, J. M., Reiss, D., Hetherington, E. M., & Plomin, R. (1998). Genetic contributions to continuity, change, and co-occurrence of antisocial and depressive symptoms in adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39, 323-336.Google Scholar
  32. Pike, A., & Plomin, R. (1996). Importance of nonshared environmental factors for childhood and adolescent psychopathology. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 560-570.Google Scholar
  33. Pliszka, S. R., Rogeness, G. A., Renner, P., Sherman, J., & Broussard, T. (1988). Plasma neurochemistry in juvenile-offenders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 588-594.Google Scholar
  34. Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., McClearn, G. E., & McGuffin, P. (2001). Behavioral Genetics (4th ed.). New York: Worth.Google Scholar
  35. 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, 2000, 129-133.Google Scholar
  36. Price, T. S., Petrill, S. A., Dale, P. S., & Plomin, R. (2003). A longitudinal multivariate genetic analysis of verbal and nonverbal cognitive abilities in early childhood. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  37. Rogeness, G. A., Hernandez, J. M., Macedo, C. A., & Mitchell, E. L. (1982). Biochemical differences in children with conduct disorder socialized and under-socialized. American Journal of Psychiatry, 139, 307-311.Google Scholar
  38. Ronald, A., Eley, T. C., & Plomin, R. (2003). Behavior problems in early childhood: Genetic and environmental etiologies across the whole spectrum of individual variation and at the problem end. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  39. Rosenstein, D. S., & Horowitz, H. A. (1996). Adolescent attachment and psychopathology. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 244-253.Google Scholar
  40. Russo, M. F., & Beidel, D. C. (1994). Comorbidity of childhood anxiety and externalizing disorders: Prevalence, associated characteristics, and validation issues. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 199-221.Google Scholar
  41. Schmitz, S., Cherny, S. S., Fulker, D. W., & Mrazek, D. A. (1994). Genetic and environmental influences on early childhood behavior. Behavior Genetics, 24, 25-34.Google Scholar
  42. Schmitz, S., & Mrazek, D. (2001). Genetic and environmental influences on the associations between attention problems and other problem behaviors. Twin Research, 4, 453-458.Google Scholar
  43. Silberg, J., Rutter, M., Neale, M., & Eaves, L. (2001). Genetic moderation of environmental risk for depression and anxiety in adolescent girls. British Journal of Psychiatry, 179, 116-121.Google Scholar
  44. Silberg, J. L., Rutter, M. L., Meyer, J., Maes, H., Hewitt, J., Simonoff, E., et al. (1996). Genetic and environmental influences on the covariation between hyperactivity and conduct disturbance in juvenile twins. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 37, 803-816.Google Scholar
  45. Stein, D. J., Westenberg, H. G. M., & Liebowitz, M. R. (2002). Social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder: Serotonergic and dopaminergic neurocircuitry. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 63, 12-19.Google Scholar
  46. Strauss, C. C., Lease, C. A., Last, C. G., & Francis, G. (1988). Overanxious disorder: An examination of developmental differences. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 16, 433-443.Google Scholar
  47. Thapar, A., & McGuffin, P. (1997). Anxiety and depressive symptoms in childhood—a genetic study of comorbidity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 651-656.Google 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 in childhood. Twin Research, 5, 444-448.Google Scholar
  49. Unis, A. S., Cook, E. H., Vincent, J. G., Gjerde, D. K., Perry, B. D., Mason, C., et al. (1997). Platelet serotonin measures in adolescents with conduct disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 42, 553-559.Google Scholar
  50. Van den Oord, J. C. G., Boomsma, D. I., & Verhulst, F. C. (2000). A study of genetic and environmental effects on the co-occurrence of problem behaviors in three-year-old twins. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 360-372.Google Scholar
  51. van Ijzendoorn, M. H., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (1996). Attachment representations in mothers, fathers, adolescents, and clinical groups: A meta-analytic search for normative data. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 8-21.Google Scholar
  52. Werry, J. S.,Reeves, J. C., & Elkind, G. S. (1987). Attention-deficit, conduct, oppositional, and anxiety disorders in children.1. A review of research on differentiating characteristics. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 133-143.Google Scholar
  53. West, M. O., & Prinz, R. J. Windle, M., & Windle, R. C. (1996). Coping strategies, drinking motives, and stressful life events among middle adolescents: Associations with emotional and behavioral problems and with academic functioning. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 551-560.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice M. Gregory
    • 1
  • Thalia C. Eley
    • 1
  • Robert Plomin
    • 1
  1. 1.Social, Genetic, & Developmental Psychiatry CentreInstitute of Psychiatry, King's CollegeLondonUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations