Intergenerational transmission of internalising and externalising behaviours across three generations: Gender-specific pathways

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Abstract

Background Few studies have examined gender-specific pathways in the intergenerational transmission of internalising and externalising behaviours across three generations.

Aim The current study considered both parental figures' internalising and externalising symptoms simultaneously and tested path models of the transmission of internalising and externalising symptoms from Generation 1 (G1) to Generation 2 (G2) and from G2 to Generation 3 (G3) by focusing on gender-specific pathways.

Method The study used data from the Oregon Youth Study of 206 young men and two associated studies of their intimate partners (Couples Study) and children (Three-Generational Study) over 20 years.

Results Findings indicated that, in general, mothers' internalising behaviour showed robust influence on offspring's internalising symptoms across three generations, regardless of gender of the child. G2 men's externalising behaviour was further predicted by G1 mothers' internalising as well as externalising behaviour, albeit the latter was only marginally significant. G3 girls' internalising and externalising behaviour was predicted by their fathers' corresponding behaviour. Overall, fathers' influence on their sons was limited.

Conclusion The findings shed important light on potential gender-specific mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of internalising and externalising behaviour. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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