Nature Versus Nurture in Childhood Conduct Disorder: It Is Time to Ask a Different Question


Journal Article

Lytton (1990, this issue) offers a lucid review of factors in the development of conduct disorder in children that focuses on the question of the "relative strength" of child effects versus environmental effects. This question ignores the fact that such estimates are a function of the subpopulation being assessed and the context in which measurement occurs. These estimates pit nature versus nurture in a way that detracts from an emphasis on the interaction of factors that characterizes most human behavioral development. This perspective also assumes that "child effects," "environmental effects," and "conduct disorder" are homogeneous constructs, but these are more likely aggregations of heterogeneous phenomena that have been grouped together only for heuristic reasons. It is recommended that instead of focusing on the relative sizes of effects, researchers should focus on the questions of which mechanisms operate and how they interact during transactional development.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dodge, KA

Published Date

  • January 1, 1990

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 698 - 701

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0012-1649

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0012-1649.26.5.698

Citation Source

  • Scopus