Co-occurrence of aggressive behavior and rule-breaking behavior at age 12: Multi-rater analyses

M. Bartels, J. Hudziak, E.J.C.G. van den Oord, C.E.M. van Beijsterveldt, M.J.H. Rietveld, D.I. Boomsma

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Aggressive Behavior (AGG) and Rule-Breaking Behavior (RB) are two of the eight CBCL syndromes. The phenotypic correlation between AGG and RB ranges from .48 to .76, and varies depending on the rater and the sex of the child. Prevalence of AGG and RB (i.e., T ≥ 67) is in the range of 6%-7% in both boys and girls. Fifty percent to 60% of the children who are deviant on AGG are also deviant on RB and vice versa. Why so many children show problem behavior in the clinical range for both syndromes is unclear. This co- occurrence could be due to genetic factors influencing both traits, to environmental factors influencing both traits, or to both. The purpose of this study is to use a genetically informative sample to estimate genetic and environmental influences on AGG and RB and to investigate the etiology of the co-occurrence of both behaviors. We do this using multiple informants to take into account underlying sources of parental agreement and disagreement in ratings of their offspring. To this end, mother and father ratings of AGG and RB were collected by using the Child Behavior Checklist in a large sample of 12-year-old twins. Parental agreement is represented by an interparent correlation in the range of .53-.76, depending on phenotype (AGG or RB) and sex of the child. Genetic influences account for 79% and 69% of the individual differences in RB and AGG behavior (defined as AGG and RB on which both parents do agree) in boys. In girls 56% and 72% of the variance in RB and AGG are accounted for by genetic factors. Shared environmental influences are significant for RB in girls only, explaining 23% of the total variance. Eighty percent of the covariance between AGG and RB, similarly assessed by both parents, can be explained by genetic influences. So, co-occurrence in AGG and RB is mainly caused by a common set of genes. Parental disagreement seems to be a combination of so-called rater bias and of parental specific views.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-621
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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