Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nature or nuture? Understanding the underpinnings of childhood resilience

14.05.2004


Many children who grow up in poverty have higher levels of behavioral problems and lower IQ scores than children who grow up in middle class families. However, some children from poor family backgrounds are resilient -- that is, they behave better and score higher on intelligence tests than might be expected given the level of social and economic deprivation they have experienced.



Researchers have identified several protective factors that promote children’s resilience, including a child’s easy, sociable personality, a mother’s warmth toward her child, and a stimulating home environment. However, we still don’t know to what extent these protective factors and children’s resilience might be associated with a common genetic factor. It may be that the genes involved in promoting the protective factor are the same genes that promote child’s positive development under conditions of poverty. For instance, the genes that contribute to a mother’s emotional warmth could be the same genes she passes onto her child, which promote the child’s resilience. In this study, we tried to determine the degree to which genetic versus social-environmental influences explain children’s resilience against poverty.

We interviewed 1,116 mothers and their 5-year-old twins in the United Kingdom to assess the family’s level of socioeconomic hardship, the twins’ antisocial behavior at home, and their IQ. We also received reports from teachers about the twins’ behavior at school.


We identified children as "behaviorally resilient" if their actual score on antisocial behavior was unexpectedly lower (i.e., better) than the score predicted by their family’s level of socioeconomic deprivation. Additionally, we identified them as "cognitively resilient" if their IQ score was unexpectedly higher (i.e., better) than the score predicted by their family’s level of socioeconomic deprivation. Studying twins allowed us to compare the similarities between identical twin pairs, who share all their genes, and fraternal twin pairs, who share about half their genes. If the similarity in resilience between identical twins is greater than the similarity between fraternal twins, it suggests that genes influence resilience.

And that is just what we found--that children’s behavioral and cognitive resilience to poverty was influenced by their genetic makeup. This suggests that children themselves are agents in rising above their experience of poverty. For example, we found that children with a genetic disposition to be friendly, sociable, and outgoing had the most resilience against poverty.

Importantly, however, children’s resilience was also affected by their rearing environment. After controlling for genetic effects, we found that mothers who engaged in more stimulating activities with their twins helped promote their children’s resilience against poverty. This finding suggests that encouraging parents to engage in activities with their children (e.g., a long walk or a museum visit) can help protect children’s intellectual development from the damaging effects of socioeconomic deprivation.

Thus, both genetic and social-environmental sources of protection are involved in helping children overcome the hardship of growing up poor.

Karen Melnyk | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.apa.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>