The propensity for aggressive behavior and lifetime incarceration risk: A test for gene-environment interaction (G × E) using whole-genome data


Journal Article (Review)

© 2019 Incarceration is a disruptive event that is experienced by a considerable proportion of the United States population. Research has identified social factors that predict incarceration risk, but scholars have called for a focus on the ways that individual differences combine with social factors to affect incarceration risk. Our study is an initial attempt to heed this call using whole-genome data. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (N = 6716) to construct a genome-wide measure of genetic propensity for aggressive behavior and use it to predict lifetime incarceration risk. We find that participants with a higher genetic propensity for aggression are more likely to experience incarceration, but the effect is stronger for males than females. Importantly, we identify a gene-environment interaction (G × E)—genetic propensity is reduced, substantively and statistically, to a non-significant predictor for males raised in homes where at least one parent graduated high school. We close by placing these findings in the broader context of concerns that have been raised about genetics research in criminology.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Barnes, JC; Liu, H; Motz, RT; Tanksley, PT; Kail, R; Beckley, AL; Belsky, DW; Domingue, BW; Moffitt, TE; Pratt, TC; Wertz, J

Published Date

  • November 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 /

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6335

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1359-1789

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.avb.2019.07.002

Citation Source

  • Scopus