A new study has found that if parents are less affectionate and harsher towards your children then it can make them aggressive and anti-social. The findings suggest that children become more aggressive because of less parental warmth and more harshness in the home environment. The lack of empathy and a moral compass, a set of characteristics known as callous-unemotional (CU) traits.
The co-author Luke Hyde, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, US reportedly said that the study convincingly shows that parenting and not just genes contribute to the development of risky callous-unemotional traits. He also said that because identical twins have the same DNA, we can be surer that the differences in parenting the twins received affect the development of these traits.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. For the study, the researchers involved 227 identical twin pairs.
To determine whether these differences predicted the likelihood of anti-social behaviours emerging the team analysed small differences in the parenting that each twin experienced. To report on 35 traits related to aggression and CU traits they also assessed child behaviour by asking the mother.
The researchers found that the twins had a greater chance of showing aggression and CU traits those who have experienced stricter or harsher treatment and less emotional warmth from parents.
A subsequent adoption study, of parents and children who were not biologically related, turned up consistent results.
The lead author Rebecca Waller, Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania reportedly said that they couldn’t blame that on genetics because these children don’t share genes with their parents. Waller also said that it still didn’t rule out the possibility that something about the child’s genetic characteristics was evoking certain reactions from the adoptive parent.
The researchers noted that if the child never reciprocates then a parent who is warm and positive may have a hard time maintaining those behaviours.