Are Different Individuals Sensitive to Different Environments? Individual Differences in Sensitivity to the Effects of the Parent, Peer and School Environment on Externalizing Behavior and its Genetic and Environmental Etiology

Noam Markovitch*, Robert M. Kirkpatrick, Ariel Knafo-Noam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Externalizing behavior is substantially affected by genetic effects, which are moderated by environmental exposures. However, little is known about whether these moderation effects differ depending on individual characteristics, and whether moderation of environmental effects generalizes across different environmental domains. With a large sample (N = 1,441 individuals) of early adolescent twins (ages 11 and 13), using a longitudinal multi-informant design, we tested interaction effects between negative emotionality and both positive and negative aspects of three key social domains: parents, peers, and schools, on the phenotypic variance as well as the etiology of externalizing. Negative emotionality moderated some of the environmental effects on the phenotypic, genetic, and environmental variance in externalizing, with adolescents at both ends of the negative emotionality distribution showing different patterns of sensitivity to the tested environmental influences. This is the first use of gene-environment interaction twin models to test individual differences in environmental sensitivity, offering a new approach to study such effects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)492-511
Number of pages20
JournalBehavior Genetics
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Differential susceptibility
  • Domain-specificity
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Twins

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