Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychological Sciences

Committee Chair

Susan C. South

Committee Member 1

Ximena Arriaga

Committee Member 2

Donald Lynam


Jarnecke, Amber M. M.S., Purdue University, December 2013. Parents' Marital Discord Moderating the Genetic and Environmental Influences on Externalizing Problems. Major Professor: Susan C. South.

Parental marital discord is related to children's externalizing problems at various ages. However, little is known about the mechanisms that explain these associations. The current study assesses the impact of parental marital discord on the etiology of

offspring externalizing problems at different ages. Specifically, biometric moderation models were used to test the hypothesis that parental marital discord moderates genetic and environmental influences on offspring externalizing problems at age 11 and age

17. Results suggest that parental marital discord had a moderating effect on the genetic and environmental influences on child's externalizing problems at both ages, though the pattern of moderation differed between cohorts. In the 11-year old cohort, greater genetic influences emerged at lower levels of parents' marital discord. In the 17-year old cohort, greater genetic influences in externalizing problems emerged at lower levels of parents' marital discord and nonshared environmental influences were greatest at the highest levels of discord. These results present a more thorough understanding of the etiological associations between parental marital relationships and offspring externalizing problems as they might differ by age of the child.

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