Genetic Influences on Life Events in Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence

Kimberly J. Saudino, Jeffrey R. Gagne and Madeline Becker

in Nature, Nurture, and the Transition to Early Adolescence

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195157475
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848065 | DOI:
Genetic Influences on Life                         Events in Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence

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One of the most interesting findings to emerge from recent behavioral genetic research is that genetic factors contribute substantially to many measures designed to assess the environments of individuals. When treated as a phenotype in genetic analyses, ostensible “environmental measures” such as ratings of the family environment, peer groups, social support, and divorce often show as much genetic influence as measures of personality. Self-reports of life events are one widely used environmental measure that has consistently displayed genetic influence in late adolescent and adult samples. This study tested if the magnitude of genetic influence on life events might change across age. As children mature and enter adolescence they become more independent of their parents, and this increased autonomy may result in individuals playing a more active role in the life events that they experience. If there are developmental increases in the extent to which individuals have influence over their experiences, we can then expect to find increased genetic influence on life events from middle childhood to early adolescence.

Keywords: genetic factors; life events; middle childhood; early adolescence; family; peer groups; social support; divorce; personality; children

Chapter.  5742 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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