Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Jaffee, Sara R. 2016. Developmental Psychopathology.

    Reiss, David 2016. Developmental Psychopathology.

    Young, Gerald 2016. Unifying Causality and Psychology.

    Hajal, Nastassia Neiderhiser, Jenae Moore, Ginger Leve, Leslie Shaw, Daniel Harold, Gordon Scaramella, Laura Ganiban, Jody and Reiss, David 2015. Angry Responses to Infant Challenges: Parent, Marital, and Child Genetic Factors Associated With Harsh Parenting. Child Development, Vol. 86, Issue. 1, p. 80.

    Pappa, Irene Mileva-Seitz, Viara R. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian J. Tiemeier, Henning and van IJzendoorn, Marinus H. 2015. The magnificent seven: A quantitative review of dopamine receptor d4 and its association with child behavior. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Vol. 57, p. 175.


Evocative gene–parenting correlations and academic performance at first grade: An exploratory study

  • Cathi B. Propper (a1), Michael J. Shanahan (a1), Rosemary Russo (a1) and W. Roger Mills-Koonce (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 October 2012

Academic performance during the first years of school lays the groundwork for subsequent trajectories of academic success throughout childhood and adolescence. The current study tests a model according to which a gene–parenting correlation in the first 3 years of life is associated with subsequent psychosocial adjustment and then academic performance in the first grade (as indicated by teachers' assessment of academic behavior and two subscales of the Woodcock–Johnson Test of Achievement, Third Edition). Drawing on multiple waves of data from the Durham Child Health and Development Study, we find that risk alleles for dopamine receptor genes (dopamine receptor D4 for girls, dopamine receptor D2 for boys) are associated with less sensitive parenting. For girls, parenting mediates the link between dopamine receptor D4 and all academic outcomes. There is some indication that parenting also influences girls' withdrawn behavior in the classroom, which in turn influences teachers' assessments of academic performance. For boys, some evidence suggests that parenting is associated with emotion regulation, which is associated with teachers' assessments of academic behavior and both subscales of the Woodcock–Johnson. Replications of this exploratory study are necessary, but these findings provide a first step in understanding how evocative correlations in the home may predict indicators of psychosocial adjustment that in turn influence performance and achievement at school.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Cathi Propper, Center for Developmental Science, 100 East Franklin Street, CB 8115, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8115; E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

L. Atkinson , V. C. Chisholm , B. Scott , S. Goldberg , B. E. Vaughn , J. Blackwell , (1999). Maternal sensitivity, child functional level, and attachment in Down syndrome. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, 4566.

J. Benjamin , L. Li , C. Patterson , B. D. Greenberg , D. L. Murphy , & D. H. Hamer (1996). Population and familial association between the D4 dopamine receptor gene and measures of novelty seeking. Nature Genetics, 12, 8184.

C. Blair , & R. Peters (2003). Physiological and neurocognitive correlates of adaptive behavior in preschool among children in Head Start. Developmental Neuropsychology, 24, 479497.

K. Blum , E. P. Noble , P. J. Sheridan , O. Finley , A. Montgomery , T. Ritchie , (1991). Association of the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene with severe alcoholism. Alcohol, 8, 409416.

R. Bull , & G. Scherif (2001). Executive functioning as a predictor of children's mathematics ability: Inhibition, switching, and working memory. Developmental Neuropsychology, 19, 273293.

S. D. Calkins , & S. E. Dedmon (2000). Physiological and behavioral regulation in two-year-old children with aggressive/destructive behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 103118.

C. S. Carver , & M. F. Scheier (2000). Scaling back goals and recalibration of the affect system are processes in normal adaptive self-regulation: Understanding “response shift” phenomena. Social Science & Medicine, 50, 17151722.

X. Chen , K. H. Rubin , & Z. Li (1995). Social functioning and adjustment in Chinese children: A longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 31, 531539.

C. R. Cloninger , R. Adolfsson , & N. M. Svrakic (1996). Mapping genes for human personality. Nature Genetics, 12, 34.

D. E. Comings , R. J. Rosenthal , H. R. Lesieur , L. J. Rugle , D. Muhleman , C. Chiu , (1996). A study of the dopamine D2 receptor gene in pathological gambling. Pharmacogenetics, 6, 223234.

M. J. Cox , M. T. Owen , V. K. Henderson , & N. A. Margand (1992). Antecedents of infant–father and infant–mother attachment. Developmental Psychology, 28, 474483.

M. J. Cox , & B. Paley (2003). Understanding families as systems. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 193196.

S. B. Crockenberg (1981). Infant irritability, mother responsiveness, and social support influences on the security of infant–mother attachment. Child Development, 52, 857865.

D. M. Dick , R. J. Rose , & J. Kaprio (2006). The next challenge for psychiatric genetics: Characterizing the risk associated with identified genes. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 18, 223231.

J. DiPerna , P. Lei , & E. E. Reid (2007). Kindergarten predictors of mathematical growth in the primary grades: An investigation using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—kindergarten cohort. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 369379.

J. Dobbs , G. L. Doctoroff , P. H. Fisher , & D. H. Arnold (2006). The association between preschool children's socioemotional functioning and their mathematical skills. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 97108.

D. R. Entwisle , K. L. Alexander , & L. S. Olson (2005). First grade and educational attainment by age 22: A new story. American Journal of Sociology, 110, 14581502.

M. J. Frank , & K. Hutchison (2009). Genetic contributions to avoidance-based decisions: Striatal D2 receptor polymorphisms. Neuroscience, 164, 131140.

E. A. Griffin , & F. J. Morrison (1997). The unique contribution of home literacy environment to differences in early literacy skills. Early Child Development and Care, 127–128, 233243.

S. P. Hinshaw (1992). Externalizing behavior problems and academic underachievement in childhood and adolescence: Causal relationships and underlying mechanisms. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 127155.

N. Ialongo , G. Edelsohn , L. Werthamer-Larsson , L. Crockett , & S. Kellam (1995). The significance of self-reported anxious symptoms of first-grade children: Prediction to anxious symptoms and adaptive functioning in fifth grade. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 4271427.

A. Kirley , N. Lowe , C. Mullins , M. McCarron , G. Daly , I. Waldman , (2004). Phenotype studies of the DRD4 gene polymorphisms in ADHD: Association with oppositional defiant disorder and positive family history. American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 131B, 3842.

G. W. Ladd , S. H. Birch , & E. S. Buhs (1999). Children's social and scholastic lives in kindergarten: Related spheres of influence? Child Development, 70, 13731400.

R. B. Lu , J. F. Lee , H. C. Ko , & W. W. Lin (2001). Dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) is associated with alcoholism with conduct disorder. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 25, 177184.

M. Lucht , S. Barnow , W. Schroeder , H. J. Grabe , U. Finckh , U. John , (2006). Negative perceived paternal parenting is associated with dopamine D2 receptor exon 8 and GABA(A) alpha 6 receptor variants: An explorative study. American Journal of Medical Genetics: Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 141B, 167172.

E. Maguin , & R. Loeber (1996). Academic performance and delinquency. Crime and Justice, 20, 145264.

J. Martin-Soelch , A. Szczepanik , K. Nugent , D. Barhaghi , P. Rallis , R. E. Herscovitch , (2011). Lateralization and gender differences in the dopaminergic response to unpredictable reward in the human ventral striatum. European Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 17061715.

M. M. McClelland , C. E. Cameron , C. M. Connor , C. L. Farris , A. M. Jewkes , & F. J. Morrison (2007). Links between behavioral regulation and preschoolers' literacy, vocabulary, and math skills. Developmental Psychology, 43, 447459.

W. Mills-Koonce , J. Gariépy , C. Propper , K. Sutton , S. Calkins , G. Moore , (2007). Infant and parent factors associated with early maternal sensitivity: A caregiver–attachment systems approach. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 114126.

G. A. Moore , A. L. Hill-Soderlund , C. B. Propper , S. D. Calkins , W. Mills-Koonce , & M. J. Cox (2009). Mother–infant vagal regulation in the face-to-face still-face paradigm is moderated by maternal sensitivity. Child Development, 80, 209223.

M. J. Neville , E. C. Johnstone , & R. T. Walton (2004). Identification and characterization of ANKK1: A novel kinase gene closely linked to DRD2 on chromosome band 11q23.1. Human Mutation, 23, 540545.

E. P. Noble (2003). D2 dopamine receptor gene in psychiatric and neurologic disorders and its phenotypes. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 116B, 103125.

E. P. Noble , T. Z. Ozkaragoz , T. L. Ritchie , X. Zhang , T. R. Belin , & R. S. Sparkes (1998). D2 and D4 dopamine receptor polymorphisms and personality. American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 81, 257267.

T. H. Ollendick , M. D. Weist , M. Borden , & R. W. Greene (1992). Sociometric status and academic, behavioral, and psychological adjustment: A five-year longitudinal study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 8087.

S. L. Olson , J. E. Bates , J. M. Sandy , & R. Lanthier (2000). Early developmental precursors of externalizing behavior in middle childhood and adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 119133.

H. A. Palinsin (1986). Preschool temperament and performance on achievement tests. Developmental Psychology, 22, 766770.

R. Plomin , J. DeFries , & J. Loehlin (1977). Genotype–environment interaction and correlation in the analysis of human behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 309322.

R. Plomin , & M. Rutter (1998). Child development, molecular genetics, and what to do with genes once they are found. Child Development, 69, 12231242.

C. Propper , G. A Moore , W. R. Mills-Koonce , S. D. Calkins , M. A. Carbone , & M. Cox (2008). Gene–environment contributions to the development of infant vagal reactivity: The interaction of dopamine and maternal sensitivity. Child Development, 79, 13771394.

S. E. Rimm-Kaufman , R. C. Pianta , & M. J. Cox (2000). Teachers' judgments of problems in the transition to kindergarten. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15, 147166.

M. Rutter (2006). Implications of resilience concepts for scientific understanding. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 112.

S. Scarr , & K. McCartney (1983). How people make their own environments: A theory of genotype → environment effects. Child Development, 54, 424435.

L. A. Schmidt , N. A. Fox , K. H. Rubin , S. Hu , & D. H. Hamer (2002). Molecular genetics of shyness and aggression in preschoolers. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 227238.

G. Shamir-Essakow , J. A. Ungerer , R. M. Rapee , & R. Safier (2004). Caregiving representations of mothers of behaviorally inhibited and uninhibited preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 40, 899910.

A. M. Shields , & D. Cicchetti (1997). Emotion regulation in school-age children: The development of a new criterion Q-sort scale. Developmental Psychology, 33, 906916.

A. M. Shields , & D. Cicchetti (2001). Parental maltreatment and emotion dysregulation as risk factors for bullying and victimization in middle childhood. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 30, 349363.

G. Spangler , & K. E. Grossmann (1993). Biobehavioral organization insecurely and insecurely attached infants. Child Development, 64, 14391450.

G. Spangler , M. Schiechle , U. Ilg , U. Maier , & C. Ackerman (1994). Maternal sensitivity as an external organizer for biobehavioral regulation in infancy. Developmental Psychobiology, 27, 425437.

D. Stipek , & R. Ryan (1997). Economically disadvantaged preschoolers: Ready to learn by further to go. Developmental Psychology, 33, 711723.

G. A. Sunohara , W. Roberts , M. Malone , R. J. Schachar , R. Tannock , V. S. Basile , . (2000). Linkage of the dopamine D4 receptor gene and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 15371542.

R. A. Thompson (1994). Emotion regulation: A theme in search of a definition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2–3, Serial No. 240), 2552.

R. A. Thompson (1997). Sensitivity and security: New questions to ponder. Child Development, 68, 595597.

D. C. van den Boom (1997). Sensitivity and attachment: Next steps for developmentalists. Child Development, 68, 592594.

S. Williams , & R. McGee (1994). Reading attainment and juvenile delinquency. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 441459.

R. A. Wise (2004). Dopamine, learning, and motivation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 5, 483494.

Y. Zhang , A. Bertolino , L. Fazio , G. Blasi , A. Rampino , R. Romano (2007). Polymorphisms in human dopamine D2 receptor gene affect gene expression, splicing, and neuronal activity during working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 2055220557.

J. Cassidy , R. D. Parke , L. Butkovsky , & J. M. Braungart (1992). Family–peer connections: The roles of emotional expressiveness within the family and children's understanding of emotions. Child Development, 63, 603618.

M. Beaver , M. G. Vaughn , J. P. Wright , M. DeLisi , & M. O. Howard (2010). Three dopaminergic polymorphisms are associated with academic achievement in middle and high school. Intelligence, 38, 596604.

C. Blair , D. Granger , M. Willoughby , K. Kivlighan , & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2006). Maternal sensitivity is related to hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis stress reactivity and regulation in response to emotion challenge in 6-month-old infants. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 263267.

S. A. Denham (1993). Maternal emotional responsiveness and toddler's social–emotional functioning. Journal of Child Psychology, 34, 715728.

S. A. Denham , M. McKinley , E. A. Couchoud , & R. Holt (1990). Emotional and behavioral predictors of preschool peer ratings. Child Development, 61, 11451152.

L. E. Duncan , & M. C. Keller (2011). A critical review of the first 10 years of candidate gene-by-environment interaction research in psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168, 10411049.

P. Estrada , W. F. Arsenio , R. D. Hess , & S. D. Holloway (1987). Affective quality of the mother–child relationship: Longitudinal consequences for children's school-relevant cognitive functioning. Developmental Psychology, 23, 210215.

L. Hu , & P. M. Bentler (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 155.

R. C. MacCallum , M. W. Browne , & H. M. Sugawara (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods, 1, 130149.

NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2002). Early child care and children's development prior to school entry: Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. American Education Research Journal, 39, 133164.

R. C. Pianta , & K. L. Harbers (1996). Observing mother and child behavior in a problem-solving situation at school entry: Relations with academic achievement. Journal of School Psychology, 34, 307322.

C. Raver (2004). Placing emotional self-regulation in sociocultural and socioeconomic contexts. Child Development, 75, 346353.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
  • URL: /core/journals/development-and-psychopathology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *