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The Genetic and Environmental Structure of the Character Sub-Scales of the Temperament and Character Inventory in Adolescence

Journal article
Authors Nigel C. Lester
Danilo Garcia
Sebastian Lundström
Sven Brändström
Maria Råstam
Nora Kerekes
Thomas Nilsson
C. Robert Cloninger
Henrik Anckarsäter
Published in Annals of General Psychiatry
Volume 15
Issue 10
ISSN 1744-859X
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Department of Psychology
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Language en
Keywords Character; CATSS; Genetics; Twins; Sub-scales; Temperament and Character Inventory
Subject categories Clinical Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology


Background: The character higher order scales (Self-directedness, Cooperativeness, and Self-transcendence) in the Temperament and Character Inventory are important general measures of health and well-being (Cloninger, 2013). Recent research has found suggestive evidence of common environmental influence on the development of these character traits during adolescence. The present article expands earlier research by focusing on the internal consistency and the etiology of traits measured by the lower order sub-scales of the character traits in adolescence. Method: The twin modeling analysis of 423 monozygotic pairs and 408 same sex dizygotic pairs estimated additive genetics (A), common environmental (C), and non-shared environmental (E) influences on twin resemblance. All twins were part of the on-going longitudinal Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS). Results: The twin modelling analysis suggested a common environmental contribution for two out of five Self-directedness sub-scales (0.14 and 0.23), for three out of five Cooperativeness sub-scales (0.07-0.17), and for all three Self-transcendence sub-scales (0.10-0.12). Conclusion: The genetic structure at the level of the character lower order sub-scales in adolescents shows that the proportion of the shared environmental component varies in the trait of Self-directedness and in the trait of Cooperativeness, while it is relatively stable across the components of Self-transcendence. The presence of this unique shared environmental effect in adolescence has implications for understanding the relative importance of interventions and treatment strategies aimed at promoting overall maturation of character, mental health, and well-being during this period of the life span.

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