Genes matter less for children of divorce

Scientists have long known that development is a combination of genes and the environment.  There is growing evidence that the nature of the environment allows or prevents genes from guiding development.  Sylvan Robbers and colleagues recently published a study that examined the degree to which genetic or environmental factors played a bigger role in children’s internalizing (e.g., depression) or externalizing (e.g., aggression)  behaviors following the divorce of their parents.  The results indicate that the behavior of children whose parents are divorced were more influenced by environmental factors than children whose parents were not divorced.  This finding reminds us how powerful and important parents and other caregivers are in influencing postdivorce adjustment.


Robbers, S., van Oort, F., Huizink, A., Verhulst, F., van Beijsterveldt, C., Boomsma, D., & Bartels, M. (2012) Childhood problem behavior and parental divorce: Evidence for gene–environment interaction  Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0470-9  Full Paper

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