Out of Control: Examining the Association Between Family Conflict and Self-Control in Adolescence in a Genetically Sensitive Design

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Family conflict is associated with low self-control in adolescence. Thus far research about the direction of this association is inconclusive. In this study, we sort out whether this association reflects a causal effect or whether it is explained by a common underlying cause, including genetic factors.

METHOD: In twin data, we fitted a series of causal models, and compared models for the association of family conflict and self-control including reciprocal causation, unidirectional causation from family conflict to low self-control, unidirectional causation from low self-control to family conflict, and common genetic susceptibility. We included data of a large sample of twins aged 14 (N=9,173), all enrolled in the Netherlands Twin Register.

RESULTS: The results suggested a unidirectional pathway model where family conflict leads to low self-control in adolescence, with genetic factors also playing a role in explaining the association.

CONCLUSION: Adolescents experiencing family conflict are at risk to show hampered self-control capacities, with family conflict being a robust predictor of low self-control through common genetic factors but also through direct causal influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume59
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • environment
  • family conflict
  • genetics
  • self-control
  • twins

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