Genetic Influences on Pubertal Development and Links to Behavior Problems

Robin P. Corley, Adriene M. Beltz, Sally J. Wadsworth, Sheri A. Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Genetic influences on adolescent psychological development are likely to be mediated and moderated by pubertal hormones. Combining genetic analyses with advanced models of pubertal development, we extended work on the measurement and psychological significance of puberty. We examined how genetic and environmental influences on puberty vary by the way that development is described (logistic versus linear models versus traditional methods) and the different aspects of puberty (adrenarche vs. gonadarche), and how genes and environment contribute to the covariation between different descriptions and aspects of puberty, and between pubertal development and behavior problems (substance use, age at sexual initiation). We also considered how puberty moderated the heritability of psychological outcomes (internalizing and externalizing problems), and sex differences. Participants from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study (403 girls, 395 boys) reported their pubertal development annually from ages 9 through 15; they and their parents reported their behavior in mid-to-late adolescence. There was a large genetic contribution to pubertal timing for both sexes no matter how it was measured, but findings for pubertal tempo varied by method. Genetic covariation accounted for most of the phenotypic correlations among different indicators of pubertal timing, and between pubertal timing and psychological outcome. We consider the implications of our results for understanding how pubertal hormones mediate or moderate genetic and environmental influences on psychological development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-312
Number of pages19
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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