Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Med. 2015 Jul;45(9):1989-97. doi: 10.1017/S0033291714003109. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Investigating genetic and environmental contributions to adolescent externalizing behavior in a collectivistic culture: a multi-informant twin study.

Author information

Key Laboratory of Mental Health,Institute of Psychology,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing,China.
Department of Psychology,University of Maryland,Baltimore County,MD,USA.
Department of Psychology,University of Minnesota,Minneapolis,MN,USA.



Little is known about the etiology of adolescents' externalizing behavior (Ext) in collectivistic cultures. We aimed to fill this gap by investigating the genetic and environmental influences on Ext in Chinese adolescents. The etiological heterogeneity of aggression (AGG) and rule breaking (RB) was also examined.


The study sample included 908 pairs of same-sex twins aged from 10 to 18 years (mean = 13.53 years, s.d. = 2.26). Adolescents' Ext were assessed with the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment including Child Behavior Checklist, Teacher Report Form, and Youth Self-Report.


Univariate genetic analyses showed that genetic influences on all measures were moderate ranging from 34% to 50%, non-shared environmental effects ranged from 23% to 52%, and shared environmental effects were significant in parent- and teacher-reported measures ranging from 29% to 43%. Bivariate genetic analyses indicated that AGG and RB shared large genetic influences (r g = 0.64-0.79) but moderate non-shared environmental factors (r e = 0.34-0.52).


Chinese adolescents' Ext was moderately influenced by genetic factors. AGG and RB had moderate independent genetic and non-shared environmental influences, and thus constitute etiologically distinct dimensions within Ext in Chinese adolescents. The heritability of AGG, in particular, was smaller in Chinese adolescents than suggested by previous data obtained on Western peers. This study suggests that the collectivistic cultural values and Confucianism philosophy may attenuate genetic potential in Ext, especially AGG.


Chinese adolescents; culture; externalizing behavior; heritability; twin

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press
Loading ...
Support Center