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03-10-2019 | Review Paper | Uitgave 3/2020 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2020

Current and Future Perspectives on Children’s Genetic- and Endophenotype-Based Differential Susceptibility to Parenting

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2020
Karen Fischer, Joyce Weeland, Patty Leijten, Alithe van den Akker, Geertjan Overbeek
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Accumulating research provides support for differential susceptibility, which holds that the same children who are most vulnerable to adversity, such as negative parenting, may also benefit most from enriched environments, such as positive parenting. This “for better and for worse” phenomenon is believed to be rooted in endogenous, biological susceptibility factors such as genes, and cognitive and physiological endophenotypes (e.g., heart rate variability and skin conductance). The goal of this paper is to discuss the effect of this biological perspective on children’s susceptibility, and the inclusion of genetic and endophenotypical data in parenting research to shed light on the differential effects of parenting behavior We discuss a number of conceptual and methodological issues related to prior studies that have aimed to assess this.


We review and discuss current and future perspectives on children’s genetic- and endophenotype-based differential susceptibility to parenting, and experimental study designs that can adequately assess the within-person phenomenon of differential susceptibility.


We summarize our call for research in an experimental paradigm to test children’s gene- and endophenotype-based differential susceptibility to parenting in their development of externalizing behavior.


Hereby we aim to advance our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying children’s differential susceptibility to negative and positive parenting.

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