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Psychol Med. 1990 Aug;20(3):581-90.

Genetic and environmental determinants of the lability of trait neuroticism and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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  • 1NH & MRC Social Psychiatry Research Unit, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.


A genetic analysis was conducted on trait neuroticism and symptoms of anxiety and depression in a five-wave study of 462 twin pairs. Models that assessed the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors to the lability (within-individual variability over time) of these measures were fitted to the data. Previous results concerning the substantial genetic involvement in the level of neuroticism and symptoms were confirmed. However, it was found that neither genes nor the shared environment of the twins was a significant cause of lability of these measures. An attempt was therefore made to identify aspects of individuals' environments that might be responsible for lability of neuroticism and symptoms. Adverse life events were found to predict variability of symptoms, but not of neuroticism. The availability of close social ties or having affectionless control in childhood did not contribute to lability.

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