Intergenerational studies are critical to informing research, preventive intervention, and policy regarding family influences on healthy development and maladjustment. Continuities in family socialization and contextual risks across generations, as well as genetic factors, are associated with the development of psychopathology – including both externalizing and internalizing problems in children – and to intergenerational associations in the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other. As a parent shares on average 50% of their genes with a biological child, accurate estimates of the magnitude of intergenerational associations in these problem behaviors are needed in order to identify contributing factors that could be targets of intervention. The size of the associations places an upper bound on the contribution of all continuity factors combined, including genetic contributions. If the magnitude of associations is small, then genetic and environmental continuities may not be as strong as has often been assumed or may be subject to considerable moderation.
Given the importance of intergenerational studies, it is perhaps surprising to note that, until relatively recently, such studies tended to be based on the retrospective reports of one generation about both their own behavior and that of the prior generation.
As of 2016, the young men in the Oregon Youth Study were in their mid 40s, and many have children ranging in age from early childhood to the late teens. We are studying intergenerational influences on the development of these children from ages 22 months to 17-18 years (including the transmission of problem behaviors, positive adjustment, substance use, and health-risking sexual behavior) across the three family generations. A Dynamic Developmental Systems approach is used to examine prospectively the transmission of contextual risk and protective factors across three generations, and parenting behaviors and peer influences across two generations.Year Project Began: 1998
Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D.
Oregon Social Learning Center
Active Research Projects
Primary Research and Clinical Interests
Primary research interests include: individual, social and contextual influences on the development of psychopathology and substance use from childhood through adulthood, particularly intergenerational influences on risk and substance use; life-span antisocial and associated behaviors, including early childhood risk, child and adolescent development, delinquent and criminal behavior, health-risking sexual behavior, use of alcohol and other substances, violence, depression, and fatherhood; and adjustment of couples, including interaction patterns and aggression, stress, and effects of relationship factors on health. Additional interests include longitudinal developmental modeling and study design, and observational assessment techniques.