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03-01-2019 | Uitgave 6/2019

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 6/2019

Effects of Parenting and Community Violence on Aggression-Related Social Goals: a Monozygotic Twin Differences Study

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 6/2019
Isaiah Sypher, Luke W. Hyde, Melissa K. Peckins, Rebecca Waller, Kelly Klump, S. Alexandra Burt
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-018-0506-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Community violence exposure and harsh parenting have been linked to maladaptive outcomes, possibly via their effects on social cognition. The Social Information Processing (SIP) model has been used to study distinct socio-cognitive processes, demonstrating links between community violence exposure, harsh parenting, and maladaptive SIP. Though much of this research assumes these associations are causal, genetic confounds have made this assumption difficult to rigorously test. Comparisons of discordant monozygotic (MZ) twins provide one empirical test of possible causality, as differences between MZ twins must be environmental in origin. The present study examined effects of parenting and community violence exposure on SIP - specifically aggressive and avoidant social goals - in a sample of 426 MZ twin dyads (N = 852 twins, 48% female). Phenotypically, we found that lower positive parenting and greater harsh parenting were associated with greater endorsement of dominance and revenge goals. We also found that indirect and direct community violence exposure was associated with greater endorsement of avoidance goals. Using an MZ difference design, we found that the relationships between lower levels of positive parenting and endorsement of dominance and revenge goals were due, in part, to environmental processes. Moreover, the relationships between the impact of indirect and direct community violence exposure and avoidance goals, as well as between the impact of indirect community violence exposure and revenge goals, appeared to be due to non-shared environmental processes. Our results establish social and contextual experiences as important environmental influences on children’s social goals, which may increase risk for later psychopathology.

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