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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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Genetic and environmental contributions to positive affect: Insights from adolescent twin data

AIMS: We examined (1) the relationship between the Anticipatory and Consummatory Interpersonal Pleasure Scale (ACIPS-A) and other measures of the positive affect and interpersonal relationships; and (2) the genetic and environmental influences on the ACIPS-A.

METHODS: We tested 85 MZ and 70 DZ twin pairs (M= 16.4 ± .97 years) (Schmidt et al., 2013). The relevant scales were the Behavioral Activation Scale (BAS) Reward Sensitivity scale, the Psychological Well-Being Scale-Positive Relations with Others subscale, and the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire (EATQ) Affiliation and Pleasure Sensitivity scales, plus the ACIPS-A.

RESULTS: Higher levels of ACIPS-A social/interpersonal pleasure were significantly associated with EATQ Affiliation (r=.55), Positive Relations with Others (r=.48), BAS Reward Sensitivity (r=.39), and EATQ Pleasure Sensitivity (r=.26). Thus, these various facets of positive emotionality showed a moderate positive manifold. Nevertheless, the ACIPS also captures unique variation in the interpersonal domain.

We compared MZ twin intraclass correlations (ICCs) with DZ ICCs to estimate genetic and environmental contributions associated with the ACIPS-A. The MZ ICC was .56 (N=85 pairs), and the DZ ICC was .10 (N=70 same-sex pairs). The MZ ICC is an upper bound heritability estimate. Then, preliminary analyses indicated that the two scales that correlated most highly with ACIPS-A (Positive Relations with Others and Affiliation) also shared genetic variance with the ACIPS-A.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings based on twin data show that there are unique heritable contributions to social/interpersonal pleasure, as measured by the ACIPS-A, as well as shared genetic variance with other measures of positive affectivity.

Diane C. Gooding
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mollie Moore
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madeline Pflum

Nicole L. Schmidt

H. Hill Goldsmith


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