Behavior Genetics

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 432–439 | Cite as

Parent- and Observer-Rated Positive Affect in Early Childhood: Genetic Overlap and Environmental Specificity

  • Megan FlomEmail author
  • Manjie Wang
  • Kendra J. Uccello
  • Kimberly J. Saudino
Original Research


The sources of individual differences in both observed and parent-rated positive affect (PA) were examined in a sample of 304 3-year-old twin pairs (140 MZ, 164 DZ). Based on model-fitting analyses, individual differences in observed PA were attributed to moderate genetic and high nonshared environmental factors, but not shared environmental factors. In contrast, shared environmental effects accounted for over half of the variance in parent-rated PA and genetic and nonshared environmental effects were more modest. The genetic correlation across the two measures was high, indicating substantial overlap between genetic factors influencing the two. It was these overlapping genetic effects that fully explained the phenotypic correlation between both measures. There was no significant covariance between the environmental influences on parent rated and observed PA. Thus, the two measures of PA in early childhood have common genetic underpinnings, whereas environmental influences are measure-specific. Measurement implications are discussed.


Positive affect Observer-rated Parent-rated Genetics Temperament Early childhood 



This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (MH062375) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD068435) Grants to Dr. Saudino. Megan Flom is supported by F31MH114590.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Megan Flom, Kendra Uccello, Manjie Wang, and Kimberly Saudino declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological & Brain SciencesBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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