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A Genetically Informed Study of the Intergenerational Transmission of Marital Instability

Authors

  • Brian M. D’Onofrio,

    Corresponding author
    1. Indiana University
      Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 E, 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 (bmdonofr@indiana.edu).
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  • Eric Turkheimer,

    1. University of Virginia*
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    • *

      The Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

  • Robert E. Emery,

    1. University of Virginia*
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      The Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

  • K. Paige Harden,

    1. University of Virginia*
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      The Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 102 Gilmer Hall, P.O. Box 400400, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

  • Wendy S. Slutske,

    1. University of Missouri**
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      Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, 210 McAlester Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

  • Andrew C. Heath,

    1. Washington University School of Medicine***
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      Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8134, St. Louis, MO 63110.

  • Pamela A. F. Madden,

    1. Washington University School of Medicine***
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      Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8134, St. Louis, MO 63110.

  • Nicholas G. Martin

    1. Queensland Institute of Medical Research****
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      Royal Brisbane Hospital Post Office, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, 300 Herston Road, Q 4029, Brisbane, Australia.


Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, 1101 E, 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 (bmdonofr@indiana.edu).

Abstract

Environmental or genetic influences, or both could account for the increased risk of divorce among the offspring of separated parents. Previous studies have used covariates to statistically control for confounds, but the present research is the first genetically informed study of the topic. The investigation used the Children of Twins Design with twins, their spouses, and their young adult offspring (n = 2,310) from the Australian Twin Registry to test whether selection on the basis of genetic or shared environment factors accounted for part of the intergenerational association. The analyses also controlled for measured characteristics of both parents. The results suggest that both environmentally mediated and genetic risk account for the intergenerational transmission, supporting the roles of both selection and causation.

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