The Genetic and Environmental Covariation Among Psychopathic Personality Traits, and Reactive and Proactive Aggression in Childhood

Washington University School of Medicine, USA.
Child Development (Impact Factor: 4.92). 05/2011; 82(4):1267-81. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01598.x
Source: PubMed


The present study investigated the genetic and environmental covariance between psychopathic personality traits with reactive and proactive aggression in 9- to 10-year-old twins (N = 1,219). Psychopathic personality traits were assessed with the Child Psychopathy Scale (D. R. Lynam, 1997), while aggressive behaviors were assessed using the Reactive Proactive Questionnaire (A. Raine et al., 2006). Significant common genetic influences were found to be shared by psychopathic personality traits and aggressive behaviors using both caregiver (mainly mother) and child self-reports. Significant genetic and nonshared environmental influences specific to psychopathic personality traits and reactive and proactive aggression were also found, suggesting etiological independence among these phenotypes. Additionally, the genetic relation between psychopathic personality traits and aggression was significantly stronger for proactive than reactive aggression when using child self-reports.

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Available from: Laura A Baker, Oct 02, 2015
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    • "Differences in findings between informants also stress the importance of utilizing both caregiver and self-report data when trying to understand complex processes . Although caregivers may not always be privy to their child's behaviors or motives or even whereabouts, they may be able to understand difficult and complex constructs better than children can (Bezdjian et al., 2011b). In contrast, self-reporters are privy to their own behaviors and motives. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies that have explored the relationship between parenting style and children's antisocial behavior have generally found significant bidirectional effects, whereby parenting behaviors influence their child's antisocial outcomes, but a child's behaviors also lead to changes in parenting style. The present study investigated the genetic and environmental underpinnings of the longitudinal relationship between negative parent-to-child affect and psychopathic personality in a sample of 1,562 twins. Using a biometrical cross-lag analysis, bidirectional effects were investigated across two waves of assessment when the twins were ages 9-10 and 14-15, utilizing both caregiver and youth self-reports. Results demonstrated that negative parental affects observed at ages 9-10 influenced the child's later psychopathic personality at ages 14-15, based on both caregiver and youth self-reports. For these 'parent-driven effects', both genetic and non-shared environmental factors were important in the development of later psychopathic personality during adolescence. There were additional 'child-driven effects' such that children's psychopathic personality at ages 9-10 influenced negative parent-to-child affect at ages 14-15, but only within caregiver reports. Thus, children's genetically influenced psychopathic personality seemed to evoke parental negativity at ages 14-15, highlighting the importance of investigating bidirectional effects in parent-child relationships to understand the development of these traits.
    Journal of Criminal Justice 09/2013; 41(5). DOI:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2013.07.001 · 1.24 Impact Factor
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    • "Having elevated levels of CU is strongly heritable in childhood regardless of whether CU traits are accompanied by conduct problems or not [10]. Twin studies suggest that there is considerable overlap in the genes that influence CU and conduct/externalizing problems, but that there are also unique genetic influences on CU [11][12][13]; consistent with the finding that high levels of CU have been observed in the absence of clinical levels of conduct problems [3]. CU is moderately to strongly stable during childhood [14] and twin studies suggest that stability in CU/psychopathic behavior is driven by genetic influences [15][16]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Callous-unemotional behavior (CU) is currently under consideration as a subtyping index for conduct disorder diagnosis. Twin studies routinely estimate the heritability of CU as greater than 50%. It is now possible to estimate genetic influence using DNA alone from samples of unrelated individuals, not relying on the assumptions of the twin method. Here we use this new DNA method (implemented in a software package called Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis, GCTA) for the first time to estimate genetic influence on CU. We also report the first genome-wide association (GWA) study of CU as a quantitative trait. We compare these DNA results to those from twin analyses using the same measure and the same community sample of 2,930 children rated by their teachers at ages 7, 9 and 12. GCTA estimates of heritability were near zero, even though twin analysis of CU in this sample confirmed the high heritability of CU reported in the literature, and even though GCTA estimates of heritability were substantial for cognitive and anthropological traits in this sample. No significant associations were found in GWA analysis, which, like GCTA, only detects additive effects of common DNA variants. The phrase 'missing heritability' was coined to refer to the gap between variance associated with DNA variants identified in GWA studies versus twin study heritability. However, GCTA heritability, not twin study heritability, is the ceiling for GWA studies because both GCTA and GWA are limited to the overall additive effects of common DNA variants, whereas twin studies are not. This GCTA ceiling is very low for CU in our study, despite its high twin study heritability estimate. The gap between GCTA and twin study heritabilities will make it challenging to identify genes responsible for the heritability of CU.
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e65789. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0065789 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The current study investigates whether the underlying factor structure of psychopathic personality traits found in adults is similar to that in children and what the extent of the genetic and environmental influences are on these psychopathic traits. Psychopathic personality traits were assessed in a community sample of 1219 twins and triplets (age 9-10 years) through caregiver reports of each child's behavior using the Child Psychopathy Scale (CPS). Confirmatory factor analyses revealed an optimal two-factor solution (callous/disinhibited and manipulative/deceitful) to the CPS subscales. Bivariate genetic modeling of the two computed factor scores revealed significant genetic as well as unique environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits in both boys and girls, with heritability estimates of 0.64 and 0.46, respectively, in boys and 0.49 and 0.58, respectively, in girls. No shared environmental influences on psychopathic personality traits were found. The relationship between the two factors was mediated by both genetic and unique environmental factors common to both traits.
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