Current parental depression and offspring perceived self-competence: A quasi-experimental examination

Quetzal A. Class, Brian M. D'Onofrio, Amber L. Singh, Jody M. Ganiban, E. L. Spotts, Paul Lichtenstein, David Reiss, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A genetically-informed, quasi-experimental design was used to examine the genetic and environmental processes underlying associations between current parental depressive symptoms and offspring perceived self-competence. Participants, drawn from a population-based Swedish sample, were 852 twin pairs and their male (52 %) and female offspring aged 15.7 ± 2.4 years. Parental depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale. Offspring perceived self-competence was measured using a modified Harter Perceived Competence Scale. Cousin comparisons and Children of Twins designs suggested that associations between maternal depressive symptoms and offspring perceived self-competence were due to shared genetic/ environmental liability. The mechanism responsible for father-offspring associations, however, was independent of genetic factors and of extended family environmental factors, supporting a causal inference. Thus, mothers and fathers may impact offspring perceived self-competence via different mechanisms and unmeasured genetic and environmental selection factors must be considered when studying the intergenerational transmission of cognitive vulnerabilities for depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-797
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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