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Challenges and adaptations (WTP)
studentValidation Study

Data from WTP has recently been used to validate the MacArthur Health and Behavior Questionnaire (HBQ), a parent-report measure of child psychopathology. This measure includes both ratings of emotional and behavioral symptoms and ratings of the level of functional impairment related to these symptoms.

Cortisol Study

Family resemblance in afternoon cortisol levels was explained by shared environmental influences. Further, the shared environment was found to account for 62% of the variance in child cortisol levels and only 14% in parent cortisol levels. Finally, cortisol levels were found to decline with age up to approximately nine-years-old, at which point they began to increase with age (see figure below).

Cortisol Study

Tactile and Auditory Defensiveness Study

Auditory and tactile defensiveness were modestly related to anxiety and fearful temperament. These dimensions of defensiveness were largely distinct from other common components of child adjustment however. Twin correlations suggested that genetic factors exert a moderate influence on both tactile and auditory defensiveness and indicated that tactile defensiveness may be more heritable than auditory defensiveness.

Genetic Risk by Experience Interaction Study

Genetic risk may interact with experience to predict child internalizing symptoms.

Genetic risk was estimated based on co-twin mental health status and zygosity. Monozygotic (MZ) co-twins of high internalizers were considered to be at highest genetic risk followed in descending order of risk by dizygotic (DZ) co-twins of high internalizers, DZ co-twins of low-moderate internalizers, and MZ co-twins of low-moderate internalizers.

Experiential risk was estimated using a cumulative risk index. Low socioeconomic status, living in a single parent home, experiencing multiple negative life events in the past year, having a high mother-rating of the negativity of those life events, and exhibiting a compromised style of mother-child interaction contributed to the cumulative index.

Genetic risk was found to significantly interact with experiential risk in the prediction of child internalizing problems. That is, the association between experiential risk and child internalizing was stronger among those children at elevated genetic risk in comparison to their low genetic risk counterparts (see figure below).

Genetic Risk by Experience Interaction Study


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