Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0003-3195-423X

Date of Award

Fall 8-9-2022

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Erin Tully

Second Advisor

Christopher Henrich

Third Advisor

Laura McKee

Fourth Advisor

Jessica Turner

Abstract

Parenting and children’s internalizing problems are often bidirectionally associated. Children with high negative emotionality (NE) could be more sensitive to a parent’s responsivity, thus moderating the effects of responsivity on internalizing problems. The A1 allele of dopamine receptor 2 (DRD2, rs1800497) is associated with greater risk for internalizing problems like depression. It is unknown if children’s NE moderates the bidirectional associations between parental responsivity differently depending on children’s DRD2 genotype. The present study tested the bidirectional associations between parental responsivity and internalizing problems from early to middle childhood, moderated by children’s NE and DRD2 genotypes (n = 1441). Results suggest there is stability in children’s internalizing problems from early into middle childhood. For children with the A1A1 DRD2 (the “higher risk or more sensitive” polymorphism) and low NE, higher parental responsivity at 3 years old was associated with more internalizing problems at 5 years old. For children with the A1A1 DRD2 and moderate to high levels of NE, higher parental responsivity was associated with lower internalizing problems at 9 years old. Responsivity was not associated with internalizing problems in children who did not have the A1A1 DRD2 genotype. These findings suggest that children with the A1A1 DRD2 genotype may be especially affected by parents’ responsivity, and the effects of responsivity may further depend on children’s temperament. Implications from this research could potentially extend to research that examines parents’ contingent responsivity to children’s needs based on temperament traits in effort to mitigate the risk for continued internalizing problems across child development.

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