Relations between Competence Scales and
DSM-Oriented Scales among Italian Twins
competence scales assess children's adaptive strengths in
terms of involvement in activities, social relationships,
and school. Both competence and problems are important for
documenting children's needs for help, for designing interventions
to strengthen competencies and/or to reduce problems, and
for evaluating outcomes of interventions. However, the competence
and problem scales are not merely mirror images of each other,
as the types of information requested, the item formats, and
the scoring differ markedly between the competence and problem
scales. Although children who function well typically have
low problem scores and high competence scores, while children
who function poorly typically show the reverse pattern, some
children have high problem scores but also high competence
scores. Other children have low problem and competence scores.
Accordingly, the negative correlations between the competence
and problem scales are modest. A team of Italian researchers
sought to test the extent to which the negative correlations
reflect causal relations (e.g., problems impair competencies
or lack of competencies contributes to problems) versus shared
genetic liabilities (Pesenti-Gritti, Scaini, D'ippolito, Fagnani,
& Battaglia, 2011). The researchers did this by using
CBCL/6-18 competence and DSM-oriented scale scores for 398
8-17-year-old Italian twin pairs to test different models
for genetic influences. The results revealed common genetic
liabilities for low scores on the CBCL/6-18 School scale and
high scores on the DSM-oriented Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Problems scale. The results also revealed common genetic liabilities
for low scores on the Social scale and high scores on the
DSM-oriented Anxiety Problems scale. It was concluded that
"specific experiences appear to play a significant role
in explaining the variance of all phenotypes under study"
but "our results suggest that shared elements of liability
can explain the negative correlations between anxiety problems
and social competencies, and ADH Problems and academic performances".
Pesenti-Gritti, P., Scaini, S., D'ippolito, C., Fanani,
C., & Battaglia, M. (2011). A genetically informed study
of the covariation between the CBCL/6-18 DSM-oriented problem
scales and the competence scales. Behavior Genetics.
Advance online publication.