Les comportements d'insensibilité à l'âge scolaire

Authors: Henry, Jeffrey
Advisor: Boivin, MichelDionne, Ginette
Abstract: Callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors in childhood are crucial in the developmental course of severe antisocial behavior and psychopathic personality. These behaviors also involve unique psychosocial risk, regardless of conduct problems levels, and are associated with a distinctive phenotypic, neurocognitive and aetiological profile. For all these reasons, studying the development of CU behaviors as a phenotype independent of conduct problems is warranted. There is, however, several unresolved questions in this regard. Hence, the general objective of the thesis was to take advantage of a normative twin sample (Quebec Newborn Twin Study; QNTS) and a longitudinal-prospective design to examine the aetiology and preschool precursors of school-age CU behaviors. First, the temporal pattern of the genetic and environmental aetiology of CU behaviors across primary school, from school entry to late childhood, was studied. In the QNTS, CU behaviors were reported by teachers. These reports were analyzed using a linear latent growth curve model and a Cholesky decomposition model. Genetic factors explained most of the variance in initial levels of CU behaviors. Genetic factors at school entry had enduring contributions to CU behaviors through late childhood. However, new genetic contributions appeared in middle and late childhood. Environmental factors were important at each age, but did not contribute to stability in CU behaviors. These results point to the dynamic nature of genetic expression and environmental contributions involved in the development of CU behaviors. Second, the phenotypic and genetic-environmental associations between parenting in preschool (warm/rewarding and hostile reactive) and CU behaviors at school age, over and above child preschool externalizing problems, were tested. Early parenting and externalizing problems were reported by the mother. Both hostile-reactive and warm/rewarding parenting were correlated with CU behaviors. After controlling for early externalizing problems, only warm/rewarding parenting predicted CU behaviors. The association between hostile-reactive parenting and CU behaviors was mostly explained by shared genetic aetiology. This genetic association was non-significant when externalizing problems were included as a control variable. These results suggest that positive, but not negative, aspects of early parenting contribute to CU behaviors through an environmental pathway. Third, the moderating role of early warm/rewarding parenting on the heritability of school-age CU behaviors was assessed. CU behaviors were highly heritable, the rest of their variance being accounted for by non-shared environmental factors. Warm/rewarding parenting significantly moderated the heritability of CU behaviors. Heritability was higher when children were exposed to low levels of warm/rewarding parenting, and lower when children received high warm/rewarding parenting. Exposure to high levels of warm/rewarding parenting may partly impede genetic expression associated with CU behaviors. Results from the thesis underline the preschool period as a window of opportunity for the prevention and treatment of CU behaviors. Indeed, several results indicate that child and environmental risk factors involved in the development of CU behaviors have not only early, but also enduring contributions. Child risk factors (e.g., genetic load) appear prominent in explaining individual differences in CU behaviors, but several environments – especially those within the family – also have unique contributions; these environments seem particularly important in early childhood. Over and above independent contributions from the child and the family, it appears that these two classes of factors reciprocally influence each other through complex gene-environment transactions. For instance, low levels of warm/rewarding parenting seemingly provide a favorable context for the expression of genetic risk for CU behaviors. Finally, results show that positive aspects of parental practices (e.g., warm/rewarding parenting) are more likely to have unique contributions to CU behaviors than their negative components (e.g., hostile reactive parenting). Therefore, the results from the thesis allow a more accurate and detailed understanding of the role of early environment in the development of CU behaviors.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2017
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/28158
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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