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Psychol Bull. 2010 May;136(3):331-40. doi: 10.1037/a0019048.

Rethinking shared environment as a source of variance underlying attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms: comment on Burt (2009).

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Department of Epidemiology and Section on Statistical Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Burt (2009) recently published a meta-analysis of twin studies on behaviors associated with childhood psychopathologies, concluding that the finding that traits associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were the only behaviors that did not show a significant influence of shared environment (C) was surprising. We agree, highlighting four methodological issues that may account for this finding: (a) the use of nonlinear transformations to normalize skewed data; (b) low power to detect C and the subsequent presentation of reduced models; (c) the negative confounding of dominant genetic (D) and C influences in twin models with data exclusively from monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs reared together; and (d) the correction used for contrast effects (a form of rater bias), which may lead to an overestimate of additive genetic (A) or D parameters at the expense of C. We offer suggestions for future research to address these issues, and we emphasize the need for additional research to examine possible shared environmental factors related to ADHD.

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