Assignment: Psychology Developmental

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Assignment: Psychology Developmental

Assignment: Psychology Developmental


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Predictive Links Between Genetic Vulnerability to Depression and Trajectories of Warmth and Conflict in the Mother–Adolescent and Father–Adolescent Relationships Charlie Brouillard, Mara Brendgen, Frank Vitaro, Ginette Dionne, and Michel Boivin

Online First Publication, May 16, 2019.


Brouillard, C., Brendgen, M., Vitaro, F., Dionne, G., & Boivin, M. (2019, May 16). Predictive Links Between Genetic Vulnerability to Depression and Trajectories of Warmth and Conflict in the Mother–Adolescent and Father–Adolescent Relationships. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication.

Predictive Links Between Genetic Vulnerability to Depression and Trajectories of Warmth and Conflict in the Mother–Adolescent

and Father–Adolescent Relationships

Charlie Brouillard University of Quebec at Montreal

Mara Brendgen University of Quebec at Montreal and Sainte-Justine Hospital

Research Centre, Montreal, Canada

Frank Vitaro Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Canada,

and University of Montreal

Ginette Dionne and Michel Boivin Laval University

The present study used a genetically informed design of twins raised in the same family (375 monozy- gotic and 290 dizygotic twins; 50.2% girls) to examine the association between adolescents’ genetic risk for depressive symptoms and the course of the parent–child relationship quality throughout adolescence. Depressive symptoms and the quality of the parent–adolescent relationships were measured through adolescents’ self-reports from ages 13 to 17. Group-based trajectory modeling revealed that most adolescents experienced high-quality relationships with both of their parents, characterized by high levels of warmth and low levels of conflict, and marked by gradual changes over adolescence. However, 3% of adolescents showed a trajectory of high and increasing conflict with their mothers and 16% of adolescents showed a trajectory of low warmth with their fathers, which decreased until mid-adolescence before increasing thereafter. Moreover, in line with an evocative gene–environment correlation process, a higher genetic vulnerability to depressive symptoms increased the likelihood of following a more problematic relationship trajectory with parents. This rGE was mediated by adolescents’ actual depres- sive behavior symptoms. Results also suggest that adolescents’ depression symptoms may affect girls’ and boys’ relationship with their parents in a similar way, with specific sex-patterns revolving more around the sex of the parent.

Keywords: depressive symptoms, genetic risk, mother–adolescent and father–adolescent relationship, trajectories, twins

During adolescence, the parent–child relationship is character- ized by a gradual decrease of support and warmth, as well as an increase of hostility and conflict (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992; Smetana, Campione-Barr, & Metzger, 2006). This shift is partly

explained by the individuation process that takes place during that developmental period, which allows the adolescent to be- come more autonomous from parents (Blos, 1967). The mostly authoritarian nature of the parent– child relationship during childhood is also redefined and renegotiated throughout ado- lescence, gradually transforming into a more mutual and recip- rocal one (Smollar & Youniss, 1989). Although these changes may entail occasional disagreements or conflicts, between 5% and 15% of parent–adolescent relationships undergo consider- able turmoil and emotional challenges during this period (Smetana et al., 2006). To better understand what characterizes these troublesome parent–adolescent relationships, the role of adolescent depression ought to be explored. Indeed, considering the interconnection between depressive symptoms and interper- sonal relationship quality (Coyne, 1976; Hammen, 2006), as well as the dramatic increase of depressive symptoms from childhood through adolescence with 20% of 7th graders show- ing depressive cognitions and behaviors (Saluja et al., 2004), adolescent depression may be at play in the multifaceted real- ities of those families. Using a genetically informed design of twins, we aimed to address this issue by examining the associ-

Charlie Brouillard, Department of Psychology, University of Quebec at Montreal; Mara Brendgen, Department of Psychology, University of Que- bec at Montreal, and Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, Montreal, Canada; Frank Vitaro, Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, and School of Psycho-Education, University of Montreal; Ginette Dionne and Michel Boivin, Department of Psychology, Laval University.

Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 97882). We thank Jocelyn Malo and Marie-Elyse Bertrand for coordinating the data collection and Hélène Paradis for data manage- ment and preparation. We also thank the twins and their families for participating in this study.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mara Brendgen, Department of Psychology, University of Quebec at Montreal, C.P. 8888 Succursale Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3P8. E-mail: [email protected]

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Developmental Psychology © 2019 American Psychological Association 2019, Vol. 1, No. 999, 000 0012-1649/19/$12.00


ation between youngsters’ genetic risk for depressive symptoms and the evolution of the parent– child relationship quality in adolescence.

The Evolution of the Parent–Child Relationship Quality in Adolescence Assignment: Psychology Developmental

Previous research used latent growth curve analysis (LGCA) to portray the normative growth trajectory of the parent–child rela- tionship during adolescence. Overall, these studies support the view of a normative gradual decline of warmth as well as an increase of negativity within the parent–child relationship over adolescence (Laursen, Delay, & Adams, 2010; Shanahan, McHale, Crouter, & Osgood, 2007). However, these studies also suggest that there are significant individual differences in the course of the parent–adolescent relationship quality. To better capture these individual differences, finite mixture modeling—either in the form of group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) or growth mixture modeling (GMM)—is deemed more appropriate, as it identifies subgroups that follow distinct developmental trajectories (Nagin & Odgers, 2010). To date, only two studies used finite mixture models to examine the parent–child relationship quality during adolescence (Kim, Thompson, Walsh, & Schepp, 2015; Seiffge- Krenke, Overbeek, & Vermulst, 2010). Seiffge-Krenke and col- leagues found three distinct developmental trajectories of adoles- cents’ relationship quality with their mother and with their father from age 14 to age 17 years: (a) normative (i.e., high and grad- ually declining support-closeness and low and stable negativity: 60.53% of mother–adolescent relationships, 73.25% of father– adolescent relationships), (b) increasingly negative (i.e., low and declining support-closeness and increasing negativity: 29.82% of mother–adolescent relationships, 12.28% of father– adolescent relationships), and (c) decreasingly negative/distant (i.e., low and declining support-closeness and decreasing neg- ativity: 9.65% of mother–adolescent relationships, 5.26% of father–adolescent relationships). Kim and colleagues also iden- tified three trajectories of conflict in the parent–adolescent relationship (high-decreasing trajectory: 13.64% of parent– adolescent relationships; low-increasing trajectory: 9.09% of parent–adolescent relationships; low-stable trajectory: 77.27% of parent–adolescent relationships), as well as one trajectory for support, characterized by a slight decline in support across time for all parent–adolescent relationships. Assignment: Psychology Developmental

Although both studies highlight individual differences in the evolution of the parent–adolescent relationship quality, they also present some limitations. First, potential sex differences within parent–adolescent dyads were not formally tested. Although some research showed no sex differences in the quality of the parent– adolescent relationship (McGue, Elkins, Walden, & Iacono, 2005), other findings suggest that girls may have a higher relationship quality with their mother than boys (Branje, Hale, Frijns, & Meeus, 2010; Furman & Buhrmester, 1992), whereas boys per- ceive the relationship with their father as being closer than girls (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992; Starrels, 1994). Thus, the sex- composition of the parent–adolescent dyad should be considered to clarify these associations. Second, the Seiffge-Krenke et al. study did not examine individual characteristics that may explain why youths differ in their trajectories of the parent–adolescent relation- ship quality and Kim et al.’s study only considered parental de-

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