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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;51(7):772-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02227.x. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Does childhood anxiety evoke maternal control? A genetically informed study.

Author information

  • 1Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK. thalia.eley@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite theoretical and empirical support for an association between maternal control and child anxiety, few studies have examined the origins of this association. Furthermore, none use observer-ratings of maternal control within a genetically informative design. This study addressed three questions: 1) do children who experience maternal control report higher anxiety levels than those who do not?; 2) to what extent do genetic and environmental factors influence maternal control and child anxiety?; 3) to what extent do genetic and environmental factors influence the associations between child anxiety and maternal control?

METHOD:

Five hundred and thirty 8-year-old children (from 265 twin pairs) and their mothers were observed participating in an 'etch-a-sketch' task from which maternal control was rated. Children rated their anxiety using the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders.

RESULTS:

Children who experienced maternal behaviour rated as 'extreme control' reported higher anxiety levels than those who did not. Maternal control was highly heritable (A = .63), high self-rated anxiety less so (h(2)(g) = .36). The overlap between high child anxiety and maternal control was primarily due to shared genetic factors.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that maternal control is likely to have been elicited by children with high levels of anxiety.

PMID:
20202040
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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