Effects of Gene × Attachment Interaction on Adolescents’ Emotion Regulation and Aggressive Hostile Behavior Towards their Mothers during a Computer Game

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Zimmermann, Peter ; Spangler, Gottfried (2016)
  • Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
  • Journal: volume 10 (issn: 1662-5161, eissn: 1662-5161)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4906005, doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00254
  • Subject: Neuroscience | gene × environment interaction | Philosophische Fakultät und Fachbereich Theologie | aggression | - | emotion regulation | autonomy | attachment | emotionality | adolescence | 5-HTTLPR | Original Research
    • ddc: ddc:150

Adolescence is a time of increased emotionality and major changes in emotion regulation often elicited in autonomy-relevant situations. Both genetic as well as social factors may lead to inter-individual differences in emotional processes in adolescence. We investigated whether both 5-HTTLPR and attachment security influence adolescents’ observed emotionality, emotional dysregulation, and their aggressive hostile autonomy while interacting with their mothers. Eighty-eight adolescents at age 12 were observed in interaction with their mothers during a standardized, emotion eliciting computer game task. They were genotyped for the 5-HTTLPR, a repeat polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene. Concurrent attachment quality was assessed by the Late Childhood Attachment Interview (LCAI). Results revealed a significant gene × attachment effect showing that ss/sl carriers of 5-HTTLPR show increased emotional dysregulation and aggressive hostile autonomy towards their mothers. The results of the study suggest that secure attachment in adolescence moderates the genetically based higher tendency for emotional dysregulation and aggressive reactions to restrictions of autonomy during emotional social interactions with their mothers.
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