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From the Child's Genes to Parental Environment and Back to the Child: Gene-environment Correlations in Early Social Development


The role of children's behavior and temperament is increasingly acknowledged in family research. Gene-environment Correlation (rGE) processes may account for some child effects, as parents react to children s behavior which is in part genetically influenced (evocative rGE). In addition, passive rGE, in which parenting and children s behavior are correlated through overlapping genetic influences on family members behavior may account in part for the parenting-child behavior relationships. The proposed project will be the first one to directly address these issues with DNA information on family members and quality observational data on parent and child behaviors, following children through early development. Two separate longitudinal studies will investigate the paths from children s genes to their behavior, to the way parents react and modify their parenting towards the child, affecting child development: Study 1 will follow first-time parents from pregnancy through children s early childhood, decoupling parent effect and child effects. Study 2 will follow dizygotic twins and their parents through middle childhood, capitalizing on genetic differences between twins reared by the same parents. We will test the hypothesis that parents' characteristics, such as parenting style and parental attitudes, are associated with children's genetic tendencies. Both parenting and child behaviors will be monitored consecutively, to investigate the co-development of parents and children in an evocative rGE process. Child and parent candidate genes relevant to social behavior, notably those from the dompaminergic and serotonergic systems, will be linked to parents behaviors. Pilot results show children s genes predict parenting, and an important task for the study will be to identify mediators of this effect, such as children s temperament. We will lay the ground for further research into the complexity of gene-environment correlations as children and parents co-develop.

Call for proposal

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Edmond j safra campus givat ram
91904 Jerusalem

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Hani Ben-Yehuda (Ms.)
Principal investigator
Ariel Knafo (Dr.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)