Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

DiLalla, Lisabeth


This study examined possible interactions between DRD4 genotype and parenting on children’s externalizing, internalizing, and prosocial behaviors, and explored both parent and child perceptions of all variables. Both diathesis-stress and differential susceptibility hypotheses were assessed for examining possible interactions for children with the DRD4 7-repeat allele. Data were collected from 58 families within the Southern Illinois Twins/Triplets and Siblings Study (SITSS). Results indicated that although no gene-environment interactions were found when examining child perceptions, a significant interaction emerged between DRD4 and parenting in predicting externalizing behaviors when using parent reports. Children without the 7-repeat allele appeared to be malleable to both positive and negative parenting, supporting differential susceptibility. Also, child and parent reports of parenting were both predictive of child behavior. Lastly, MZ twins perceived more similar parenting environments than DZ twins, and there appeared to be a stronger environmental effect of parenting on externalizing after controlling for the effects of genes. This study adds to the differential susceptibility literature and points to the importance of considering perceptions of both children and parents when examining the effects of parenting on child behaviors.




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