Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nature or nuture?

17.05.2004


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.


Summarized from Child Development, Vol. 75, Issue 3, Genetic and Environmental Processes in Young Children’s Resilience and Vulnerability to Socioeconomic Deprivation by J. Kim-Cohen, T. E. Moffitt, A. Caspi, and A. Taylor. Copyright 2004 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.

Karen Melnyk | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>