Negative parental discipline, conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits: monozygotic twin differences study

Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):414-9. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.061192.


Background: Negative parenting practices may be an environmental risk factor for subsequent conduct problems. Research on the association between parenting practices and callous-unemotional traits, a risk factor for conduct problems, has produced mixed findings.

Aims: To investigate whether negative parental discipline is a non-shared environmental risk factor for the development of conduct problems and callous-unemotional traits.

Method: Longitudinal, multi-informant data from a community sample of twins were analysed using the monozygotic (MZ) twin differences design for 4508 twins (2254 twin pairs).

Results: Within MZ twin pairs, the twin receiving more negative parental discipline at 7 years had more conduct problems (but not more callous-unemotional traits) at 12 years.

Conclusions: During the transition to early adolescence, negative parental discipline operates as a non-shared environmental risk factor for development of conduct problems, but not for the development of callous-unemotional traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / etiology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / etiology*
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology
  • Diseases in Twins / epidemiology
  • Diseases in Twins / etiology*
  • Diseases in Twins / psychology
  • Empathy
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Punishment / psychology
  • Twins, Monozygotic / psychology
  • Wales / epidemiology