Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Development of Childhood Aggression

Gitta H Lubke, Daniel B McArtor, Dorret I Boomsma, Meike Bartels

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Longitudinal data from a large sample of twins participating in the Netherlands Twin Register (n = 42,827, age range 3-16) were analyzed to investigate the genetic and environmental contributions to childhood aggression. Genetic auto-regressive (simplex) models were used to assess whether the same genes are involved or whether new genes come into play as children grow up. The authors compared 2 different simplex models to disentangle potentially changing behavioral expressions from changes in genetic and environmental effects. One model provided estimates of genetic and environmental effects at the level of individual aggression questionnaire items, and the other model assessed the effects at the level of an aggression sum score computed from the individual items. The results from both models provided evidence for largely stable genetic effects throughout childhood. The results also highlighted the differential heritability of the different indicators of aggression measured with the Childhood Behavior Checklist, with destruction of property showing a very high genetic component during early childhood and fighting behaviors being more heritable in early adolescence. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


Gitta H. Lubke, Dorret I. Boomsma, and Meike Bartels are supported by EU FP7-602768. Gitta H. Lubke is also supported by NIDA R37 DA-018673. Daniel B. McArtor is supported by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science Professor Award (PAH/6635). The Netherlands Twin Register is supported by the following: The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and MagW/ZonMW Grants 904-61-090, 985-10-002, 904-61-193,480-04-004, 400-05-717, 463-06-001, 451-04-034, Middelgroot-911-09-032, Spi-nozapremie 56-464-14192, Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI –NL, 184.021.007), VU University’s Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+), the European Research Council (ERC Advanced, 230374), the Avera Institute, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

FundersFunder number
Avera Institute
ERC advanced230374
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
VU University’s
National Institute on Drug AbuseR37DA018673
European Research Council
Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesPAH/6635
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek904-61-090, Middelgroot-911-09-032, 184.021.007


    • Journal Article

    Cohort Studies

    • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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