Temperament and peer problems from early to middle childhood: Gene-environment correlations with negative emotionality and sociability

Liat Hasenfratz*, Maya Benish-Weisman, Tami Steinberg, Ariel Knafo-Noam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Based in a transactional framework in which children's own characteristics and the social environment influence each other to produce individual differences in social adjustment, we investigated relationships between children's peer problems and their temperamental characteristics, using a longitudinal and genetically informed study of 939 pairs of Israeli twins followed from early to middle childhood (ages 3, 5, and 6.5). Peer problems were moderately stable within children over time, such that children who appeared to have more peer problems at age 3 tended to have also more peer problems at age 6.5. Children's temperament accounted for 10%-22% of the variance in their peer problems measured at the same age and for 2%-7% of the variance longitudinally. It is important that genetic factors accounted for the association between temperament and peer problems and were in line with a gene-environment correlation process, providing support for the proposal that biologically predisposed characteristics, particularly negative emotionality and sociability, have an influence on children's early experiences of peer problems. The results highlight the need for early and continuous interventions that are specifically tailored to address the interpersonal difficulties of children with particular temperamental profiles.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1089-1109
Number of pages21
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
LIST is supported by Grant 31/06 from the Israel Science Foundation; by a grant from the Science of Generosity Initiative, funded by the Templeton Foundation; and by Starting Grant 240994 from the European Research Council (to A.K.).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright Cambridge University Press 2015.


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