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Differential susceptibility to environmental influences: Interactions between child temperament and parenting in adolescent alcohol use

  • Charlie Rioux (a1), Natalie Castellanos-Ryan (a1), Sophie Parent (a1), Frank Vitaro (a1), Richard E. Tremblay (a1) and Jean R. Séguin (a1)...

Temperament and parental practices (PP) are important predictors of adolescent alcohol use (AU); however, less is known about how they combine to increase or decrease risk of AU. This study examined whether age 6 temperament (i.e., impulsivity and inhibitory control) interacted with age 6 coercive PP and/or age 14 parental monitoring to predict AU at 15 years among 209 adolescents. Results showed that low parental monitoring was associated with more frequent AU and that coercive PP interacted with impulsivity to predict AU. This interaction was examined as a function of two models that were not studied before in the prediction of AU: the diathesis–stress model (i.e., impulsive children are more “vulnerable” to adverse PP than those with an easy temperament); and the differential susceptibility model (i.e., impulsive children are also more likely to benefit from good PP). Results supported the differential susceptibility model by showing that impulsive children were not only at higher risk for AU when combined with high coercive PP but also benefit from the absence of coercive PP. This supports the suggestion that the conception of certain temperament characteristics, or in this case impulsivity, as a “vulnerability” for adolescent AU, may need revision because it misrepresents the malleability it may imply.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, École de Psychoéducation, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Marie-Victorin, 90 avenue Vincent-d'Indy, Outremont, H2V 2S9 QC, Canada; E-mail:
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