Article

Beyond Diathesis Stress: Differential Susceptibility to Environmental Influences

Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birkbeck University of London, 7 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RA, United Kingdom.
Psychological Bulletin (Impact Factor: 14.39). 11/2009; 135(6):885-908. DOI: 10.1037/a0017376
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Evolutionary-biological reasoning suggests that individuals should be differentially susceptible to environmental influences, with some people being not just more vulnerable than others to the negative effects of adversity, as the prevailing diathesis-stress view of psychopathology (and of many environmental influences) maintains, but also disproportionately susceptible to the beneficial effects of supportive and enriching experiences (or just the absence of adversity). Evidence consistent with the proposition that individuals differ in plasticity is reviewed. The authors document multiple instances in which (a) phenotypic temperamental characteristics, (b) endophenotypic attributes, and (c) specific genes function less like "vulnerability factors" and more like "plasticity factors," thereby rendering some individuals more malleable or susceptible than others to both negative and positive environmental influences. Discussion focuses upon limits of the evidence, statistical criteria for distinguishing differential susceptibility from diathesis stress, potential mechanisms of influence, and unknowns in the differential-susceptibility equation.

0 Followers
 · 
277 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Interest in individual differences in animal behavioural plasticities has surged in recent years, but research in this area has been hampered by semantic confusion as different investigators use the same terms (e.g. plasticity, flexibility, responsiveness) to refer to different phenomena. The first goal of this review is to suggest a framework for categorizing the many different types of behavioural plasticities, describe examples of each, and indicate why using reversibility as a criterion for categorizing behavioural plasticities is problematic. This framework is then used to address a number of timely questions about individual differences in behavioural plasticities. One set of questions concerns the experimental designs that can be used to study individual differences in various types of behavioural plasticities. Although within-individual designs are the default option for empirical studies of many types of behavioural plasticities, in some situations (e.g. when experience at an early age affects the behaviour expressed at subsequent ages), 'replicate individual' designs can provide useful insights into individual differences in behavioural plasticities. To date, researchers using within-individual and replicate individual designs have documented individual differences in all of the major categories of behavioural plasticities described herein. Another important question is whether and how different types of behavioural plasticities are related to one another. Currently there is empirical evidence that many behavioural plasticities [e.g. contextual plasticity, learning rates, IIV (intra-individual variability), endogenous plasticities, ontogenetic plasticities) can themselves vary as a function of experiences earlier in life, that is, many types of behavioural plasticity are themselves developmentally plastic. These findings support the assumption that differences among individuals in prior experiences may contribute to individual differences in behavioural plasticities observed at a given age. Several authors have predicted correlations across individuals between different types of behavioural plasticities, i.e. that some individuals will be generally more plastic than others. However, empirical support for most of these predictions, including indirect evidence from studies of relationships between personality traits and plasticities, is currently sparse and equivocal. The final section of this review suggests how an appreciation of the similarities and differences between different types of behavioural plasticities may help theoreticians formulate testable models to explain the evolution of individual differences in behavioural plasticities and the evolutionary and ecological consequences of individual differences in behavioural plasticities. © 2015 Cambridge Philosophical Society.
    Biological Reviews 04/2015; DOI:10.1111/brv.12186 · 9.79 Impact Factor
  • Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 03/2014; 13(2):190-206. DOI:10.1177/1541204014523797 · 1.37 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Acetaminophen, an effective and popular over-the-counter pain reliever (e.g., the active ingredient in Tylenol), has recently been shown to blunt individuals' reactivity to a range of negative stimuli in addition to physical pain. Because accumulating research has shown that individuals' reactivity to both negative and positive stimuli can be influenced by a single factor (an idea known as differential susceptibility), we conducted two experiments testing whether acetaminophen blunted individuals' evaluations of and emotional reactions to both negative and positive images from the International Affective Picture System. Participants who took acetaminophen evaluated unpleasant stimuli less negatively and pleasant stimuli less positively, compared with participants who took a placebo. Participants in the acetaminophen condition also rated both negative and positive stimuli as less emotionally arousing than did participants in the placebo condition (Studies 1 and 2), whereas nonevaluative ratings (extent of color saturation in each image; Study 2) were not affected by drug condition. These findings suggest that acetaminophen has a general blunting effect on individuals' evaluative and emotional processing, irrespective of negative or positive valence. © The Author(s) 2015.
    Psychological Science 04/2015; DOI:10.1177/0956797615570366 · 4.43 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
10,015 Downloads
Available from
Jun 1, 2014