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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2005 Feb;8(1):1-4.

Parent-child feedback predicts sibling contrast: using twin studies to test theories of parent-offspring interaction in infant behavior.

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  • 1Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298, USA.


Several studies report apparent sibling contrast effects in analyses of twin resemblance. In the presence of genetic differences, contrast effects reduce the dizygotic (DZ) twin correlation relative to that in monozygotic (MZ) twins and produce higher DZ than MZ variance. Explanations of contrast effects are typically cast in terms of direct social interaction between twins or an artifact of the process of rating children by their parents. We outline a model for sibling imitation and contrast effects that depends on social interaction between parents and children. In addition to predicting the observed pattern of twin variances and covariances, the parental mediation of child imitation and contrast effects leads to differences in the variance of parents of MZ and DZ twins and differences between the correlations of parents with their MZ and DZ children.

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