Previous studies have emphasized the importance of rater issues in studying the etiology of variation in internalizing and externalizing problems in children. Earlier results indicate only moderate agreement between parents, and assume that parents assess a specific aspect of their child's behavior. In comparable samples of younger children, additive genetic effects are the main factor explaining individual differences in both internalizing and externalizing behavior. It is unknown whether this pattern of rater influences and variance decomposition will be consistent in older children. Child Behavior Checklists (Achenbach, 1991), completed by both parents, were collected in a sample of 2956 Dutch 10-year-old twin pairs. The etiology of individual differences in internalizing and externalizing syndromes was examined using a model that corrected for possible rater bias, rater-specific effects and unreliability. The best fitting model suggested that disagreement between the parents is not merely the result of unreliability and/or rater bias, but each parent also provides specific information from his/her own perspective on the child's behavior. Significant influences of additive genetic, shared environmental and unique environmental factors were found for internalizing and externalizing syndromes.
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