Evidence from behavioral genetics for environmental contributions to antisocial conduct


Conference Paper

This chapter reviews recent behavioral-genetic research that is helping to address questions about the non-genetic, environmental causes of antisocial conduct. We illustrate how behavioral-genetic methods are being newly applied to detect the genuine environmental influences among the many risk factors for antisocial behavior. We further examine interactions between genes and environments, in which environmental effects may be stronger than previously assumed, within genetically vulnerable children. Despite assiduous efforts to eliminate it, antisocial behavior is still a problem. Approximately 20% of people in the developed world experience victimization by perpetrators of violent and non-violent illegal behavior each year (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002). The World Report on Violence and Health (WHO, 2002) tallies the staggering burden of mortality, disease, disability, and compromised well-being brought about by perpetrators of family violence and other violent crimes. Behavioral science needs to achieve a more complete understanding of the causes of antisocial behavior to provide an evidence base for effectively controlling and preventing antisocial behavior. A new wave of intervention research in the last decade has demonstrated clear success for a number of programs designed to prevent antisocial behavior (http://www.preventingcrime.org; Heinrich, Brown and Aber, 1999; Sherman et al., 1999; Weissberg, Kumpfer and Seligman, 2003). Nevertheless, the reduction in antisocial behavior brought about by even the best prevention programs is, on average, modest (Dodge, 2003; Wasserman and Miller, 1998; Olds et al., 1998; Heinrich, Brown and Aber, 1999; Wandersman and Florin, 2003; Wilson, Gottfredson and Najaka, 2001). The best-designed intervention programs reduce serious juvenile offenders' recidivism only by about 12% (Lipsey and Wilson, 1998). This modest success of interventions that were theory-driven, well-designed and amply-funded sends a clear message that we do not yet understand the causes of antisocial behavior well enough to prevent it. © 2006 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Moffitt, TE; Caspi, A

Published Date

  • December 1, 2006

Start / End Page

  • 45 - 81

International Standard Book Number 10 (ISBN-10)

  • 1594546096

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781594546099

Citation Source

  • Scopus