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Gene–Environment Processes Linking Aggression, Peer Victimization, and the Teacher–Child Relationship

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  • This research was made possible by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds Concerté pour l’Aide à la Recherche, the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec. We wish to thank the participating families, and the authorities and directors as well as the teachers of the participating schools. We also thank Bernadette Simoneau, Jacqueline Langlois, and Hélène Paradis for their assistance in data management and preparation, and Jocelyn Malo for coordinating the data collection.

concerning this article should be addressed to Mara Brendgen, Department of Psychology, University of Quebec at Montreal, CP 8888, succ. centre-ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3P8. Electronic mail may be sent to brendgen.mara@uqam.ca.

Abstract

Aggressive behavior in middle childhood is at least partly explained by genetic factors. Nevertheless, estimations of simple effects ignore possible gene–environment interactions (G × E) or gene–environment correlations (rGE) in the etiology of aggression. The present study aimed to simultaneously test for G × E and rGE processes between aggression, on the one hand, and peer victimization and the teacher–child relationship in school, on the other hand. The sample comprised 124 MZ pairs and 93 DZ pairs assessed in Grade 1 (mean age = 84.7 months). Consistent with rGE, children with a presumed genetic disposition for aggression were at an increased risk of peer victimization, whereas in line with G × E, a positive relationship with the teacher mitigated the genetically mediated expression of aggression.

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