Genetics of Adult Antisocial Behaviour

Abstract

A large body of empirical research has estimated the extent to which genetic factors account for variance in antisocial behaviours, such as adulthood criminal involvement. The results of these studies have consistently revealed that approximately 50% of the variance is the result of genetic influences, with most of the remaining variance being attributable to nonshared environmental influences. Moreover, there is emerging evidence that has identified specific genetic polymorphisms as contributing to criminal involvement across the life course. More recently, researchers have examined the various ways that genetic and environmental influences interact to predict variation in crime and delinquency. Using these bodies of research as a springboard, this article will review the current state of knowledge on the genetic underpinnings to adult criminal behaviour.

Key Concepts:

  • Genetic influences account for approximately 50% of the variance in adulthood criminal behaviour.

  • Gene–environment interactions appear to be integral to the aetiology of criminal behaviour across the life course.

  • Specific genetic polymorphisms have been identified as the predisposing factors for criminal behaviour.

  • The effectiveness of treatment and prevention programmes can likely be enhanced through research examining gene–environment interactions.

  • Nonshared environmental influences account for about 50–60% of the variance in adulthood criminal behaviour, while shared environmental influences typically account for about 0–10% of the variance.

Keywords: adulthood; antisocial; crime; delinquency; genetics; interactions

References

Beaver KM (2013) Biosocial Criminology: A Primer, 2nd edn. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Ferguson CJ (2010) Genetic contributions to antisocial personality and behavior: a meta‐analytic review from an evolutionary perspective. Journal of Social Psychology 150: 160–180.

Lemery KS and Goldsmith HH (1999) Genetically informative designs for the study of behavioural development. International Journal of Behavioral Development 23: 293–317.

Moffitt TE (2005) The new look of behavioral genetics in developmental psychopathology: Gene–environment interplay in antisocial behaviors. Psychological Bulletin 131: 533–554.

Moffitt TE , Caspi A and Rutter M (2006) Measured gene–environment interactions in psychopathology: concepts, research strategies, and implications for research, intervention, and public understanding of genetics. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1: 5–27.

Rhee SH and Waldman ID (2002) Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior: a meta‐analysis of twin and adoption studies. Psychological Bulletin 128: 490–529.

Rowe DC (2002) Biology and Crime. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.

Walsh A and Beaver KM (2009) Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Wright JP , Tibbetts SG and Daigle LE (2008) Criminals in the Making: Criminality across the Life Course. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Further Reading

Anderson GS (2007) Biological Influences on Criminal Behavior. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Raine A (1993) The Psychopathology of Crime: Criminal Behavior as a Clinical Disorder. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

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How to Cite close
Beaver, Kevin M(Jan 2014) Genetics of Adult Antisocial Behaviour. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025230]