The limits of child effects: evidence for genetically mediated child effects on corporal punishment but not on physical maltreatment.

Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 11/2004; 40(6):1047-58. DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.40.6.1047
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Research on child effects has demonstrated that children's difficult and coercive behavior provokes harsh discipline from adults. Using a genetically sensitive design, the authors tested the limits of child effects on adult behavior that ranged from the normative (corporal punishment) to the nonnormative (physical maltreatment). The sample was a 1994-1995 nationally representative birth cohort of 1,116 twins and their families who participated in the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Study. Results showed that environmental factors accounted for most of the variation in corporal punishment and physical maltreatment. However, corporal punishment was genetically mediated in part, and the genetic factors that influenced corporal punishment were largely the same as those that influenced children's antisocial behavior, suggesting a child effect. The authors conclude that risk factors for maltreatment are less likely to reside within the child and more likely to reside in characteristics that differ between families.

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