Behavioral genetics of temperament and frontal asymmetry in early childhood

Ilse C. van Wijk, Renske Huffmeijer, Jizzo R. Bosdriesz, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Laura Kolijn, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Claudia I. Vrijhof, Bianca G. van den Bulk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Temperament has been suggested to be influenced by genetic and environmental factors. The current study examined genetic shared environmental and unique environmental factors accounting for variation in Fear, Effortful Control (EC), and Frontal Asymmetry (FA) in 4- to 6-year-old children using bivariate behavioral genetic modeling. We included a total of 214 same-sex twin pairs: 127 monozygotic (MZ) and 87 dizygotic (DZ) pairs. FA was measured during a rest electroencephalogram (EEG) recording, and Fear and EC were measured using parent report. Results show that differences between twins were best explained by genetic factors (about a quarter of the variance) and unique environmental factors (about three quarters of the variance). However, the cross-trait, within-twin correlations were not significant, implying no overlapping genetic or environmental factors on Fear and EC or on Fear and FA. Future research should try to elucidate the large role of unique environmental factors in explaining variance in these temperament-related traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-361
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date19 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


The Consortium on Individual Development (CID) is funded through the Gravitation program of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO grant number 024.001.003).

FundersFunder number
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek024.001.003


    • Behavioral genetics
    • Early childhood
    • Frontal EEG asymmetry
    • Temperament


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