Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Elizabeth Hayden


Effortful control (EC) has important implications for children’s development. Although genetic factors and parenting have been shown to influence EC, few studies have examined whether they interact to predict its development. The current study investigated associations between parenting and children’s EC, and whether these associations were moderated by children’s DRD4 exon III VNTR genotype. A community sample o f 409 three-year-olds completed behavioural measures o f EC, and their caregivers completed laboratory and self-report measures of parenting. Observed and self- reported negative parenting were associated with lower child EC. The association between children’s EC and positive parenting was moderated by children’s DRD4 genotype, such that children with at least one 7-repeat allele displayed both better and poorer EC than children without this allele, depending on the degree of positive parenting. These results extend recent findings suggesting that certain genetic polymorphisms sensitize children to contextual influences in a bivalent manner.



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