Nearly all aspects of human development are influenced by genetic and environmental factors, which conjointly shape development through several gene-environment interplay mechanisms. More recently, researchers have begun to examine the influence of genetic factors on peer and family relationships across the pre-adolescent and adolescent time periods. This article introduces the special issue by providing a critical overview of behavior genetic methodology and existing research demonstrating gene-environment processes operating on the link between peer and family relationships and adolescent adjustment. The overview is followed by a summary of new research studies, which use genetically informed samples to examine how peer and family environment work together with genetic factors to influence behavioral outcomes across adolescence. The studies in this special issue provide further evidence of gene-environment interplay through innovative behavior genetic methodological approaches across international samples. Results from the quantitative models indicate environmental moderation of genetic risk for coercive adolescent-parent relationships and deviant peer affiliation. The molecular genetics studies provide support for a gene-environment interaction differential susceptibility model for dopamine regulation genes across positive and negative peer and family environments. Overall, the findings from the studies in this special issue demonstrate the importance of considering how genes and environments work in concert to shape developmental outcomes during adolescence.

Available for download on Friday, July 01, 2016