I think, therefore I am: a twin study of attributional style in adolescents


Jennifer Y.F. Lau, Box P080, Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK; Tel: 020 7848 5414; Fax: 020 7848 0866; Email: j.lau@iop.kcl.ac.uk


Background:  Parenting factors may be important to the development of attributional style in adolescence, which in turn relates to depression symptoms. These relationships have mainly been considered in terms of social risk mechanisms, and little is known about the role of genetic influences.

Method:  Self-reported measures of attributional style, depression symptoms and parental disciplinary styles were administered to over 1300 adolescent twin and sibling pairs. Model-fitting techniques were used to examine the role of genetic and environmental influences.

Results:  Moderate genetic influences on attributional style were demonstrated, and furthermore, its association with depression reflected considerable genetic effects. Familial factors were implicated in the association between attributional style and punitive parenting, although genetic from shared environmental causes could not be distinguished.

Conclusions:  Our results demonstrate that attributional style is influenced by genetic, as well as social factors. Implications for aetiological pathways integrating cognitive, genetic and social factors on adolescent depression are discussed.