Infant Pathways to Externalizing Behavior: Evidence of Genotype × Environment Interaction


  • This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

  • This project was supported by Grant R01 HD042608, NICHD, NIDA, and the Office of the Director, NIH, U.S. PHS (PI Years 1–5: David Reiss, MD; PI Years 6–10: Leslie Leve, PhD). The writing of this manuscript was partially supported by P20 DA017592 and P30 DA023920, NIDA, NIH, U.S. PHS. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. We would like to thank the birth and adoptive parents who participated in this study and the adoption agency staff members who helped with the recruitment of study participants. Thanks also are due to Matthew Rabel and Adrienne van der Valk for editorial assistance. Special gratitude is given to Remi Cadoret and Beverly Fagot who were centrally involved in this work prior to their deaths.

concerning this article should be addressed to Leslie D. Leve, Oregon Social Learning Center, 10 Shelton McMurphey Boulevard, Eugene, OR 97401. Electronic mail may be sent to


To further the understanding of the effects of early experiences, 9-month-old infants were observed during a frustration task. The analytical sample was composed of 348 linked triads of participants (adoptive parents, adopted child, and birth parent[s]) from a prospective adoption study. It was hypothesized that genetic risk for externalizing problems and affect dysregulation in the adoptive parents would independently and interactively predict a known precursor to externalizing problems: heightened infant attention to frustrating events. Results supported the moderation hypotheses involving adoptive mother affect dysregulation: Infants at genetic risk showed heightened attention to frustrating events only when the adoptive mother had higher levels of anxious and depressive symptoms. The Genotype × Environment interaction pattern held when substance use during pregnancy was considered.