This study aimed to examine the structure of fears of youth, and its associations with gender, genetic variation of the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR), and perceived maternal acceptance/rejection and control, in a population-representative sample. Participants were 453 adolescents and 540 young adults. Fears were assessed by a 18-item Fear Questionnaire, and perceived maternal relationships by the Mother Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire. A structured psychiatric interview was used to assess current and lifetime psychiatric disorders in participants from the older cohort. A principal component analyses indicated 2 components, named Fear/Phobia and Panic/Despair. Females expressed higher level of fears and symptoms of despair regardless of the serotonin transporter genotype. The 5-HTTLPR genotype nevertheless played a role in the association between fears and perceived relationships: in S/S-genotype, more Fear/Phobia was reported by the participants who perceived greater maternal acceptance in combination with strict maternal control, and had a history of psychiatric disorder.
Keywords: fears; maternal acceptance/rejection; maternal control; population representative sample; psychiatric; serotonin transporter gene.
© The Author(s) 2015.