Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shelleby, Elizabeth C.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


The dimensional model of adversity and psychopathology (DMAP) posits dimensions of childhood adversity (i.e., deprivation, violence exposure) differentially predict child neurobiological outcomes and behavioral correlates of these neurobiological outcomes. Both deprivation and violence exposure are associated with higher child conduct problems. Genetic and environmental vulnerability factors often interact to increase or decrease risk for developing adolescent conduct problems. One gene of particular interest is COMT, which is implicated in the dopaminergic system. The present study explored whether dimensions of childhood adversity during the child’s first five years of life interacted with COMT genotype to differentially confer cognitive (i.e., executive dysfunction) and affective (i.e., emotional dysregulation) risk (measured at child age nine) of developing child conduct problems at child age 15. Data was from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal birth cohort study comprising 4,898 families. Three structural equation models were conducted. The first model examined direct effects of dimensions of adversity on adolescent conduct problems at age 15. The second model examined whether cognitive and affective outcomes at age nine mediated the association between dimensions of adversity and adolescent conduct problems at age 15. The last model examined a multigroup model to explore how these pathways differed based on COMT genotype. The lavaan package in R was utilized for all analyses. Findings indicated that higher deprivation was associated with lower EF and higher emotional dysregulation. Higher violence exposure was associated with higher emotional dysregulation. Higher dysregulation, but not EF, was associated with higher adolescent conduct problems. Indirect effects suggested associations between violence exposure and child conduct problems operated through higher dysregulation. No gene environment interactions were identified.


186 pages




Northern Illinois University

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