Under certain conditions, cross-sectional analysis of cross-twin intertrait correlations can provide important information about the direction of causation (DOC) between two variables. A community-based sample of Australian female twins aged 18 to 45 years was mailed an extensive Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire (HLQ) that covered a wide range of personality and behavioral measures. Included were self-report measures of recent psychological distress and perceived childhood environment (PBI). Factor analysis of the PBI yielded three interpretable dimensions: Coldness, Overprotection, and Autonomy. Univariate analysis revealed that parental Overprotection and Autonomy were best explained by additive genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental effects (ACE), whereas the best-fitting model for PBI Coldness and the three measures of psychological distress (Depression, Phobic Anxiety, and Somatic Distress) included only additive genetic and nonshared environmental effects (AE), A common pathway model best explained the covariation between (1) the three PBI dimensions and (2) the three measures of psychological distress. DOC modeling between latent constructs of parenting and psychological distress revealed that a model which specified recollected parental behavior as the cause of psychological distress provided a better fit than a model which specified psychological distress as the cause of recollected parental behavior. Power analyses and limitations of the findings are discussed.
- Direction of causation (DOC) modeling
- Somatic distress