Investigating genetic moderation of intervention effects on adolescent substance use and delinquency with dynamical systems analysis

Open Access
Zheng, Yao
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 13, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Hobart H Cleveland Iii, Dissertation Advisor
  • Peter Cm Molenaar, Committee Chair
  • D Wayne Osgood, Committee Member
  • Edward A Smith, Committee Member
  • Sy Miin Chow, Committee Member
  • Debashis Ghosh, Committee Member
  • dynamical systems
  • adolescence
  • substance use
  • delinquency
  • differential susceptibility theory
  • damped linear oscillator model
Adolescence as an important developmental period is characterized by exploration and experimentation in various psychological and behavioral developments including substance use and delinquency. Conceptualizing human development as a highly complex and dynamic system that encompasses interplay and transactional influences within and between biological, psychological, behavioral, social, and ecological levels, the dynamical systems approach offers the unique opportunity to understand and investigate adolescent substance use and delinquency and their structured patterns of change. The present study aimed to understand and investigate genetic moderation of intervention effects on adolescent substance use and delinquency with dynamical systems approach using data from a large scale community-based universal preventive intervention program dissemination with randomized control trials (N = 561). Using latent differential structural equation modeling, results suggested that adolescent substance use and delinquency could be modeled and understood as a damped linear oscillator with an amplifying amplitude. Adolescent substance use and delinquency shared common risk and protective factors consistent with problem behavior theory. Furthermore, as suggested by differential susceptibility theory, DRD4, DAT1, and 5-HTTLPR alleles moderated the intervention effects, such that adolescents carrying susceptible alleles benefited more from the intervention. These findings suggest that dynamical system approach can inform developmental science and prevention science by examining the initiation, persistence, escalation, and desistence of substance use and delinquency across adolescence, exploring the reciprocal relationship between adolescent problem behaviors, and investigating genetic and exogenous influence (e.g., intervention) to the intrinsic dynamics of the system.