Development and Psychopathology

Research Article

The contribution of gene–environment interaction to psychopathology

Anita Thapara1 c1, Gordon Harolda1, Frances Ricea1, Kate Langleya1 and Michael O'Donovana1

a1 Cardiff University


The study of gene–environment interaction (G × E) constitutes an area of significant social and clinical significance. Different types of research study designs are being used to investigate the contribution of G × E to psychopathology, although the term G × E has also been used and interpreted in different ways. Despite mixed evidence that G × E contributes to psychopathology, some promising and consistent findings are emerging. Evidence is reviewed in relation to depression, antisocial behavior, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Although findings from various research designs have different meaning, interestingly much of the evidence with regard to the contribution of G × E that has arisen from twin and adoption studies has been for antisocial behavior and depression. It is for these same forms of psychopathology that molecular genetic evidence of G × E has also been most convincing. Finally, current and anticipated methodological challenges and implications for future research in this area are considered.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Anita Thapar, Department of Psychological Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK; E-mail:


Grant funding was provided by the Wellcome Trust. We are grateful to Katherine Shelton and Sasha Walters for assistance with manuscript preparation.