Investigating the association between family connectedness and self-control in adolescence in a genetically sensitive design

Yayouk E Willems, Odilia M Laceulle, Meike Bartels, Catrin Finkenauer

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Family connectedness is key for the development of self-control in early and middle childhood. But is family connectedness still important during the transitional phase of adolescence, when adolescents demand more independence from their parents and rely more on their peers? The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between family connectedness and self-control, and whether it still holds in adolescence using a genetically sensitive design. Data were used from a large sample of twins aged 14 (N = 11,260) and aged 16 (N = 8175), all enrolled in the Netherlands Twin Register. We applied bivariate twin models and monozygotic twin difference models to investigate the association between family connectedness and self-control and to unravel to what extent genetic and environmental factors explain this association. The results showed that more family connectedness is significantly related to better self-control in adolescence, albeit with a small effect size. Twin analyses revealed that this association was mainly explained by common genetic factors and that the effects of environmental factors were small. The current findings confirm the role of family connectedness in adolescent self-control. Importantly, however, the results demonstrate that phenomena we see within families seem the product of parent and children sharing the same genes rather than being exclusively attributable to environmental processes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean child & adolescent psychiatry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2020


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