Emotional and Behavioral Problems among Female Twins: An Evaluation of the Equal Environments Assumption

Nikole J. Cronk, Wendy S. Slutske, Pamela A.F. Madden, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Wendy Reich, Andrew C. Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To evaluate the equal environments assumption (EEA) of the twin method for mother-reported symptoms of child and adolescent emotional and behavioral problems. Method: Four emotional and behavioral problem scales (symptoms of separation anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder) and four environmental similarity measures (sharing friends, sharing classes, dressing alike, and perceived zygosity) were assessed by telephone interviews with the biological mothers of 1,948 female adolescent and young adult twin pairs. The effect of environmental similarity on the magnitude of the monozygotic and dizygotic twin correlations and on the parameter estimates from genetic model-fitting was examined for each symptom scale. Results: The measures of environmental similarity were not strongly or consistently related to the similarity of twins for mother-reported emotional and behavioral problems. On average, controlling for environmental similarity did not substantially affect estimates of genetic and environmental influences. Conclusions: These results lend support for the validity of the EEA and suggest that estimates of genetic and environmental influences obtained from twin studies of mother-reported child and adolescent emotional and behavioral problems are not unduly biased by the greater environmental similarity of monozygotic than dizygotic twins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-837
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2002

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Childhood
  • Equal environments assumption
  • Psychopathology
  • Twin

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