The development of physical aggression in toddlers is strongly associated genetic factors and to a lesser degree with the environment, according to a new study led by Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital. Lacourse's worked with the parents of identical and non-identical twins to evaluate and compare their behaviour, environment and genetics.
"The gene-environment analyses revealed that early genetic factors were pervasive in accounting for developmental trends, explaining most of the stability and change in physical aggression, " Lacourse said. "However, it should be emphasized that these genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable. Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment in the causal chain explaining any behaviour."
Over the past 25 years, research on early development of physical aggression has been highly influenced by social learning theories that suggest the onset and development of physical aggression is mainly determined by accumulated exposure to aggressive role models in the social environment and the media. However, the results of studies on early childhood physical aggression indicate that physical aggression starts during infancy and peaks between the ages of 2 and 4. Although for most children the use of physical aggression initiated by the University of Montreal team peaks during early childhood, these studies also show that there are substantial differences in both frequency at onset and rate of change of physical aggression due to the interplay of genetic and environmental factors over time. Genetically informed studies of disruptive behavior and different forms of aggression across the lifespan generally conclude that genetic factors account for approximately 50% of the variance in the population.
Lacourse and his colleagues posited and tested three general patterns regarding the developmental roles of genetic and environmental factors in physical aggression. First, the most consensual and general point of view is that both sources of influence are ubiquitous and involved in the stability of physical aggression. Second, a "genetic set point" model suggests a single set of genetic factors could account for the level of physical aggression across time. A third pattern labeled 'genetic maturation' postulates new sources of genetic and environmental influences with age. "According to the genetic maturation hypothesis, new environmental contributions to physical aggression could be of short duration in contrast to genetic factors," Lacourse explained.
About the twins cohort
This twin study was initiated by Michel Boivin of Laval University and Richard Tremblay, who is also affiliated with the University of Montreal and University College Dublin. All parents of twins born between April 1995 and December 1998 in the Greater Montreal area (Canada) were invited to participate, which resulted in the participation of 667 monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs. Monozygotic means the twins originated from the same embryo – they are genetically identical. Dizogytic means they developed in separate embryos, meaning they are not identical.
Mothers were ask to rate their twins physical aggression, by reporting behaviour such as hitting, biting, kicking and fighting, at the ages of 20, 32 and 50 months. "The results of the gene-environment analyses provided some support for the genetic set-point hypotheses, but mostly for the genetic maturation hypotheses," Lacourse said. "Genetic factors always explained a substantial part of individual differences in physical aggression. More generally, the limited role of shared environmental factors in physical aggression clashes with the results of studies of singletons in which many family or parent level factors were found to predict developmental trajectories of physical aggression during preschool." Our results suggest that the effect of those factors may not be as direct as was previously though.
Long-term studies of physical aggression clearly show that most children, adolescent and adults eventually learn to use alternatives to physical aggression. "Because early childhood propensities may evoke negative responses from parents and peers, and consequently create contexts where the use of physical aggression is maintained and reinforced, early physical aggression needs to be dealt with care," Lacourse said. "These cycles of aggression between children and siblings or parents, as well as between children and their peers, could support the development of chronic physical aggression." We are presently exploring the impact of these gene and social environment interactions.
About this study
Eric Lacourse, PhD, Michel Boivin, PhD, Mara Brendgen, PhD, Amélie Petitclerc, PhD, Alain Girard, MSc, Frank Vitaro, PhD, Stéphane Paquin, PhD candidate, Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, PhD, Ginette Dionne, PhD and Richard E. Tremblay, PhD published "A longitudinal twin study of physical aggression during early childhood: Evidence for a developmentally dynamic genome" in Psychological Medicine on January 21, 2014.
This research was supported by grants from the National Health Research Development Program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Research Chair program, the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, and the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec.
E. Lacourse, M. Boivin, M. Brendgen, A. Girard, F. Vitaro, S. Paquin, I. Ouellet-Morin, G. Dionne, and R. E. Tremblay, are affiliated with Research Unit on Children's Psychosocial Adjustment, Ste-Justine Hospital Research Center, affiliated with the University of Montreal. E. Lacourse and S. Paquin are affiliated with the University of Montreal's Department of Sociology, F. Vitaro with its Department of Psychoeducation, and I. Ouellet-Morin with its School of Criminology and the university's affiliated Mental Health Institute of Montreal Research Center. A. Petitclerc is affiliated with the National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College at Columbia University. M. Boivin and G. Dionne are affiliated with the School of Psychology at Laval University. M. Brendgen is affiliated with the Department of Psychology at Université du Québec. R. E. Tremblay is also affiliated with the University of Montreal's departments of psychology and pediatrics and with the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science at University College Dublin, Ireland. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.
Julie Gazaille | EurekAlert!
Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union
Virtual treasure hunt shows brain maps time sequence of memories
06.08.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften
Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.
The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...
Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.
Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.
Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.
Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...
Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics
The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...
Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.
Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...
16.08.2019 | Event News
14.08.2019 | Event News
12.08.2019 | Event News
23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.08.2019 | Life Sciences