The dopamine receptor D4 and familial loading interact with perceived parenting in predicting externalizing behavior problems in early adolescence
Although externalizing behavior problems show in general a high stability over time, the course of externalizing behavior problems may vary from individual to individual. Our main goal was to investigate the predictive role of parenting on externalizing behavior problems. In addition, we investigated the potential moderating role of gender and genetic risk (operationalized as familial loading of externalizing behavior problems (FLE), and presence or absence of the DRD4 7-repeat and 4-repeat allele, respectively). Perceived parenting (rejection, emotional warmth, and overprotection) and FLE were assessed in a population-based sample of 1768 10- to 12-year-old adolescents. Externalizing behavior problems were assessed at the same age and 212 years later by parent report (CBCL) and self-report (YSR). DNA was extracted from blood samples. Parental emotional warmth predicted lower, and parental overprotection and rejection predicted higher levels of externalizing behavior problems. Whereas none of the parenting factors interacted with gender and the DRD4 7-repeat allele, we did find interaction effects with FLE and the DRD4 4-repeat allele. That is, the predictive effect of parental rejection was only observed in adolescents from low FLE families and the predictive effect of parental overprotection was stronger in adolescents not carrying the DRD4 4-repeat allele.