The Genetic Relationship Between Social Cognition and Conduct Problems

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Abstract

Studies of children and adolescents with conduct problems suggest both genetic and environmental influences on population variance. Any genetic influence is likely to be complex and to act via mediating attributes of personality or cognitive style. One potential mediating attribute is social cognitive ability, as conduct problems have been shown to be associated with deficient social cognitive skills. The current investigation has examined the correlation between conduct problems and social cognition and has investigated the genetic and environmental influences on these measures and their covariation using a twin design. A population-based sample of twins aged 5–17 was used to examine the genetic relationship between conduct problems and social cognition using parent-report questionnaires. Conduct problems and social cognition were found to be highly correlated and to share common genetic influences that accounted for about half the covariation in scores. Each phenotype was subject to its own environmental influences that were not shared.

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