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The Genetics of Emotional Ontogeny (GEO)

GEO FAQ for Researchers

General Questions

What is the GEO project?
What are the overall goals?
How is GEO related to the TAP and WTP projects?

Dataset and Data Collection Questions

How many families have participated in the GEO project, and how many twins are identical or fraternal?
How was the GEO sample recruited and enrolled?
What proportion of the GEO sample are "special cases" that may show signs of a major medical diagnosis?
How was the GEO sample recruited and enrolled?
At what stage of data collection is the GEO project?

Measures and Data Sharing Questions

What is the GEO project's policy on data sharing?
What is the Lab-TAB, and is it available for researchers to use?
I am having difficulty finding specific stimuli from the various Lab-TAB manuals, can you help me to locate a store or website where these stimuli can be purchased?
Are the parent-rating temperament assessments (i.e., IBQ, TBAQ, CBQ) available here as well?
What is the Zygosity Questionnaire for Young Twins and is it available for researchers?
Are there opportunities to analyze GEO data for conference presentations and publications?
Are publications and other findings from the GEO project available?
Is Dr. Goldsmith accepting graduate students for next fall?

General Questions

Q: What is the GEO project?
A: The GEO (Genetics of Emotional Ontogeny) study examines emotional development in young twins from birth to 3 years. Information from several sources (parents, center-based observations) is integrated to examine emerging personality traits in relation to developmental milestones in emotional (e.g. stranger anxiety), motoric (e.g. crawling), and language domains (e.g. first words). The fine-grained longitudinal nature of these assessments allows us to examine unique aspects of twin development and interdependencies among various domains of development. A follow-up study combines emotional and physiological aspects of development with twins ages 6-9 years.

Q: What are the overall goals?
A: The GEO project includes multimodal, comprehensive assessments of emotion and temperament as well as selective assessment of cognition, motor development, physiology, social interaction, and the home environment. The project incorporates an unusually broad set of methods, including lab-based elicitation of behavior, home observation, telephone interviews, diaries, narrative constructions, questionnaires, hospital records, biochemical assays (cortisol), and central (EEG) and peripheral (cardiac) psychophysiology. The goals of the GEO project fall into two categories, those concerning developing emotional individuality and its correlates, and those involving genetic and environmental underpinnings of emotional individuality and domains of development. The follow-up project extends GEO research into the early school ages.

Q: How is GEO related to the TAP and WTP projects?
A: GEO focuses on normative development; TAP focuses on twins who may be on the autism spectrum, and WTP focuses on internalizing and externalizing behaviors of middle childhood. Although all of these projects are collaborative, they are fairly independent of one another, and samples do not overlap extensively.

Dataset and Data Collection Questions

Q: How many families have participated in the GEO project, and how many twins are identical or fraternal?
A: The sample consists of 784 sets of twins born between 1991 and 2003. Of the 784 twin pairs, 271 pairs are genetically identical, 270 are same-sex fraternal, 231 are boy/girl pairs, and 12 are of undetermined zygosity.

Q: How was the GEO sample recruited and enrolled?
A: Approximately 30% of the sample was recruited through the Waisman Center Research Participation Core (RPC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During recruitment, RCP provided lists on a monthly basis of all twins born at local hospitals. Around 40% of the sample was enlisted through the Wisconsin Vital Records Services. This office generated a list of all twin births in the state every six months, and GEO was allowed six months to contact and recruit families. The remaining families were recruited through the GEO website, word-of-mouth, flyers at OB/GYN offices, local news stories, Mothers of Multiples groups, and newspaper advertisements.

Q: What proportion of the GEO sample are "special cases" that may show signs of a major medical diagnosis?
A: Because many children are recruited at such a young age, it is often difficult to determine diagnoses early. Based on early detection and follow-ups, less than 5% of the sample have a major medical diagnosis and may be excluded from certain analyses.

Q: At what stage of data collection is the GEO project?
A: Currently, data collection is focused on the follow-ups in early school age (6-8). Home visits and assessments continue to be conducted for twins at this stage. Data analysis is constantly underway, and coding and data entry are ongoing for many phases of the project.

Measures and Data Sharing Questions

Q: What is the GEO project's policy on data sharing?
A: At this time, data from the GEO project is not publicly available and there is no official data sharing agreement. In general, we are open to collaboration and making portions of the data available if investigators are conducting similar research. Please email GEO staff for more information.

Q: What is the Lab-TAB, and is it available for researchers to use?
A: The Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB) is a standardized instrument for laboratory assessment of early temperament. Lab-TAB comprises a set of 3-5 minute episodes that simulate everyday situations in which one can reliably observe individual differences in expression of emotion, approach/avoidance and other instrumental behavior, activity level, and regulatory aspects of behavior (temperament). The current coding systems, which can be examined in detail in the manuals, are designed with a dimensional conceptualization of individual difference variability. For example, facial, vocal and motoric indicators of target discrete emotions are rated using a combination of both event- and interval-based coding. Currently, we have four versions of the Lab-TAB: two infant versions (one for children who have started to crawl [locomotor] and one for those who have not [prelocomotor]). a version for preschoolers, and a version for children 6-8 years of age. See Dr. Goldsmith's measures for more information.

Q: I am having difficulty finding specific stimuli from the various Lab-TAB manuals, can you help me to locate a store or website where these stimuli can be purchased?
A: Unfortunately, the Lab-TAB manuals were conceptualized and composed many years ago.  Therefore, some of the toys and other stimuli that are described may be unavailable for purchase.  For example, the wooden workbench toy that is used in the “workbench” episode is no longer available.  The best solution when issues like this arise is to use a toy that is similar to the exemplar described in the manual.  There are several plastic workbench toys that can be substituted in this situation.  If there is no available option that closely approximates the stimuli that you are looking for, you must consider replacing it with another toy or object that can elicit the same reaction in the children in your study.  Some researchers have inquired about a remote-controlled spider described in the Lab-TAB manuals.  If you can not find a similar toy, consider using a remote control snake or other toy that would also elicit object fear in children.  Episode scripts and scoring guidelines may have to be modified if stimuli are substituted in this manner.

Q: Are the parent-rating temperament assessments (IBQ, TBAQ, CBQ) available here as well?
A: The Toddler Behavior Assessment Questionnaire (TBAQ) is a parent report instrument designed to examine temperament-related behavior in 16-36 month old children. The scales include activity level, anger, inhibitory control, interest, pleasure, sadness, social fear and soothability.

Further information regarding the TBAQ can be obtained by emailing GEO staff. Further information about the IBQ and CBQ temperament instruments can be obtained on Mary Rothbart's web site.

The following reference serves to direct persons interested in psychometric information: Goldsmith, H.H. (1996). Studying Temperament via Construction of the Toddler Behavior Assessment Questionnaire. Child Development, 67, 218-235.

Q: What is the Zygosity Questionnaire for Young Twins and is it available for researchers?
A: The Zygosity Questionnaire for Young Twins (Goldsmith, 1991) is used to diagnose zygosity when DNA methods are not available. Although diagnosing zygosity by bloodtyping or "DNA fingerprinting" are the preferred methods, they are also expensive and can be difficult to justify for infants or toddlers. The Zygosity Questionnaire for Young Twins yields 95% agreement with bloodtyping and is a practical alternative. In the 10% of cases in which the questionnaire yields ambiguous results, it will be supplemented with DNA fingerprinting in the future. For more information, see Dr. Goldsmith's measures.

Q: Are there opportunities to analyze GEO data for conference presentations and publications?
A: Currently, there are several ongoing analyses being pursued and diverse data sets exist for future projects. Potential graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and other research collaborators are encouraged to write to GEO staff for more information.

Q: Are publications and other findings from the GEO project available?
A: Yes, see the Recent Publications and GEO Papers sections of our website.

Q: Is Dr. Goldsmith accepting graduate students for next fall?
A: Dr. Goldsmith is interested in recruiting graduate students for both the developmental and clinical psychology programs, depending on availability of space. For more information, check out the Graduate Students web pages.


University of Wisconsin-Madison :: Department of Psychology :: Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Psychology Department, University of WI, Madison
Waisman Center, UW Madison