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 childrens resilience, including a childs easy, sociable personality, a mothers warmth toward her child, and a stimulating home environment. However, we still dont know to what extent these protective factors and childrens 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 childs positive development under conditions of poverty. For instance, the genes that contribute to a mothers emotional warmth could be the same genes she passes onto her child, which promote the childs resilience. In this study, we tried to determine the degree to which genetic versus social-environmental influences explain childrens resilience against poverty.
We interviewed 1,116 mothers and their 5-year-old twins in the United Kingdom to assess the familys 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.
Karen Melnyk | EurekAlert!
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