Genetic and environmental etiology of disregard for rules

Amélie Petitclerc, Michel Boivin*, Ginette Dionne, Daniel Pérusse, Richard E. Tremblay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Disregard for rules, a key component of oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, is stable during early childhood. This study investigates for the first time the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors underlying this early developmental stability. Maternal reports of child disregard for rules were obtained at four time points from 20 to 64 months of age in a population-based twin sample (N = 597 twin pairs, including 238 monozygotic and 359 dizygotic pairs). Structural equation modeling was conducted using both variance-covariance and latent growth curve approaches. Genetic factors accounted for most of the stability in disregard for rules throughout early childhood. In contrast, most environmental effects were age specific. Developmental stability in early symptoms of disregard for rules is best explained by the stable action of genetic factors, suggesting that preventive interventions should take an intergenerational approach, targeting at-risk families as early as possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-200
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Behavioral genetics
  • Conduct disorder
  • Disregard for rules
  • Early childhood development
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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