Genetic and environmental etiology of emotional and social behaviors in 5-month-old infant twins: influence of the social context.Infant Behav Dev. 2009 Jan; 32(1):1-9.IB
The study investigated the genetic and environmental contributions to individual differences in measures of socioemotional reactivity and emotion regulation with a sample of 115 monozygotic (MZ) and 156 dizygotic (DZ) 5-month-old twin pairs. Twins' zygosity was determined by a combination of DNA typing and physical similarity. Twins' behaviors (motor activity level, social gaze, gaze aversion, positive expression, negative expression, and self-comfort) were videotaped in a laboratory while infants were presented televised sequences of neutral and happy emotional expressions posed by their mother (familiar condition) and a female stranger (unfamiliar condition). Regardless of the social context, the findings based on model-fitting analyses indicated that nonshared environmental influences explained most of the variance of behavioral data. However, there was evidence that motor activity level (an index of emotional arousal) and the latency and frequency of gaze aversion (an index of emotional regulation) were best represented by a model incorporating both additive genetic and nonshared environmental (i.e., AE) influences when infants were exposed to the unfamiliar adult (heritability estimates ranging from 19% to 31%). The results suggest the importance of nonshared environmental influences during early infancy and stress the role of social context for revealing moderate genetic contributions to individual differences in emotional arousal and emotion regulation.