Aetiological influences on stability and change in emotional and behavioural problems across development: a systematic review

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Abstract

Emotional and behavioural problems in childhood and adolescence can be chronic and are predictive of future psychiatric problems. Understanding what factors drive the development and maintenance of these problems is therefore crucial. Longitudinal behavioural genetic studies using twin, sibling or adoption data can be used to explore the developmental aetiology of stability and change in childhood and adolescent psychopathology. We present a systematic review of longitudinal, behavioural genetic analyses of emotional and behavioural problems between ages 0 to 18 years. We identified 58 studies, of which 19 examined emotional problems, 30 examined behavioural problems, and 9 examined both. In the majority of studies, stability in emotional and behavioural problems was primarily genetically influenced. Stable environmental factors were also widely found, although these typically played a smaller role. Both genetic and environmental factors were involved in change across development. We discuss the findings in the context of the wider developmental literature and make recommendations for future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychopathology Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016

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