Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Temperament in Adolescence

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Temperament in Adolescence

Article excerpt

Despite their age-old history, the studies of temperament are still attracting many researchers' close attention. And this is no accident, considering its contribution to the understanding of human behavior. Despite certain distinctions in theoretical approaches, most researchers define temperament as biologically determined traits that manifest themselves in early childhood and retain the ontogenetic and cross-situational stability of individual behavioral style (Buss, and Plomin, 1975; Cloninger, 1987; Eysenck, 1981; Gray, 1982; Krupnov, 1992; Nebylitsin, 1976; Rothbart, and Derryberry, 1981; Rusalov, 1979; Teplov, 1985; Zuckerman, 1994 etc.). One of the principal criteria used to regard a certain trait as a temperamental feature is, in the view of many researchers (A. Buss, R. Plomin, J. Strelau, V.M. Rusalov, et al.), its hereditary determination.

There already exists a large enough body of empirical data on hereditary determination of individual human traits viewed as temperament (Babynin, 2003). Most studies address the hereditability of the "Big Three" (extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism) and "Big Five" (openness to experience, awareness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) personality traits (Eysenck, 1981; John, 1990; Norman, 1963, etc.). It should be noted that despite the fact that American and European psychology uses the concept of personality to define these traits, their main specifics give reason to regard them as belonging to the sphere of temperament (Strelau, and Angleitner, 1991; Strelau, Angleitner, Bantelmann, and Ruch, 1990, etc.).

The findings of twin studies point to a moderate contribution of hereditary factors to the variability of these characteristics: approximately 30 - 60% of variance can be explained by genetic factors, while the remaining variance is due to such factors as family environment, the nonsystematic measurement error, and the systematic error of method (Eaves, et al., 1989, Floderus, Myrhed, et al.,1980; Henderson, 1982; Loehlin, 1992; Loehlin, and Nichols, 1976; Plomin, Chipuer, and Loehlin, 1990; Rose, et al., 1988; Viken, et al., 1994, etc). For a number of characteristics, both an influence of nonadditive factors (e.g., extraversion - Eaves, et al., 1989, etc.) and the presence of sex differences (neuroticism - Eaves, et al., 1989; Finkel, and McGue, 1997; Loehlin, 1992; Viken, et al., 1994, etc.) were discovered.

Despite some discrepancies, the findings of twin studies are consistent and stable enough even if different methods are used to diagnose the "Big Five": the subjects' self-ratings (Loehlin, 1992; Plomin, Chipuer, and Loehlin, 1990; Rose, 1995); expert ratings (those of people who have a good knowledge of their subjects Riemann, Angleitner, and Strelau, 1997); the twins' ratings of one another (Neale, et al., 1992); or expert ratings of video recordings of the subjects' behavior (Borkenau, et al., 2001).

The findings of the studies performed within the framework of other theoretical temperament models (Cloninger, 1987; Kohnstamm, Bates, and Rothbart, 1989; Zuckerman, 1994) also testify to the contribution of the genotype to the variance of temperamental features. The influence of hereditary factors was demonstrated in the variance of four temperament dimensions (novelty seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence, and persistence) identified in C. Cloninger's psychobiological model (Stalling, et al., 1996). What is more, studies of the molecular-genetic foundations of temperament have shown that the polymorphism of the gene which codes the dopamine receptor (DRD4) is connected with "novelty seeking" dimension. It turned out that the subjects possessing longer DRD4 allele forms had higher scores for novelty seeking (Benjamin, Ebstein, Belmaker, 2002).

Similar results were obtained for the "sensation seeking" scale (Zuckerman, 1994). Two major twin studies yielded high enough (60%) estimates of heritability for general "sensation seeking" (Fulker, Eysenck, and Zuckerman, 1980; Koopmans, et al. …

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