Chaotic homes and children's disruptive behavior: a longitudinal cross-lagged twin study.

Research paper by Sara R SR Jaffee, Ken B KB Hanscombe, Claire M A CM Haworth, Oliver S P OS Davis, Robert R Plomin

Indexed on: 02 May '12Published on: 02 May '12Published in: Psychological Science


Chaotic home lives are correlated with behavior problems in children. In the study reported here, we tested whether there was a cross-lagged relation between children's experience of chaos and their disruptive behaviors (conduct problems and hyperactivity-inattention). Using genetically informative models, we then tested for the first time whether the influence of household chaos on disruptive behavior was environmentally mediated and whether genetic influences on children's disruptive behaviors accounted for the heritability of household chaos. We measured children's perceptions of household chaos and parents' ratings of children's disruptive behavior at ages 9 and 12 in a sample of 6,286 twin pairs from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). There was a phenotypic cross-lagged relation between children's experiences of household chaos and their disruptive behavior. In genetically informative models, we found that the effect of household chaos on subsequent disruptive behavior was environmentally mediated. However, genetic influences on disruptive behavior did not explain why household chaos was heritable.