Although stressful life events during adolescence are associated with the adoption of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, both social circumstances and physical traits can moderate the relationship. This study builds on the stress paradigm and gene-environment approach to social behavior by examining how a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene 5-HTTLPR moderates the effect of life events on adolescent smoking. Tests of interaction hypotheses use data from the Family Transitions Project, a longitudinal study of 7th graders followed for 5. years. A sibling-pair design with separate models for the gender composition of pairs (brothers, sisters, or brother/sister) controls for unmeasured family background. The results show that negative life events are significantly and positively associated with smoking. Among brother pairs but not other pairs, the results provide evidence of gene-environment interaction by showing that life events more strongly influence smoking behavior for those with more copies of the 5-HTTLPR S allele.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science