Does Marriage Inhibit Antisocial Behavior? An Examination of Selection vs Causation via a Longitudinal Twin Design

Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 48824, USA.
Archives of general psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 12/2010; 67(12):1309-15. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.159
Source: PubMed


Previous studies have indicated that marriage is negatively associated with male antisocial behavior. Although often interpreted as a causal association, marriage is not a random event. As such, the association may stem from selection processes, whereby men less inclined toward antisocial behavior are more likely to marry.
To evaluate selection vs causation explanations of the association between marriage and desistence from antisocial behavior.
Co-twin control analyses in a prospective twin study provided an analogue of the idealized counterfactual model of causation. The co-twin control design uses the unmarried co-twin of a married twin to estimate what the married twin would have looked like had he remained unmarried. Discordant monozygotic (MZ) twins are particularly informative because they share a common genotype and rearing environment.
General community study.
Two hundred eighty-nine male-male twin pairs (65.1% MZ) from the Minnesota Twin Family Study underwent assessment at 17, 20, 24, and 29 years of age. None of the participants were married at 17 years of age, and 2.6% were married at 20 years of age. By 29 years of age, 58.8% of the participants were or had been married.
A tally of criterion C symptoms of DSM-III-R antisocial personality disorder, as assessed via structured clinical interview.
Mean differences in antisocial behavior across marital status at age 29 years were present even at 17 and 20 years of age, suggesting a selection process. However, the within-pair effect of marriage was significant for MZ twins, such that the married twin engaged in less antisocial behavior following marriage than his unmarried co-twin. Results were equivalent to those in dizygotic twins and persisted when controlling for prior antisocial behavior.
Results indicate an initial selection effect, whereby men with lower levels of antisocial behavior are more likely to marry. However, this tendency to refrain from antisocial behavior appears to be accentuated by the state of marriage.


Available from: Mikhila N Wildey, Jan 29, 2014
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    • "hould include measures that capture these concepts in order to get better insight into this , and to separate causal from possible selective explanations . Nevertheless , differ - ent studies have proved that selection effects should not be overestimated in explaining the relationship between union type and psychological wellbeing ( Brown , 2000 ; Burt et al . , 2010 ; Horn , Xu , Beam , Turkheimer , & Emery , 2013 ; Lamb , Lee , & DeMaris , 2003 ) . In particular , the study by Lu , Qian , Cunningham , and Li ( 2012 ) shows that selection effects are more present when cohabitation is exceptional , but seem to disappear when it becomes a normality in society . Therefore , as in Flanders , where coha"
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    • "The problem of statistical endogeneity is endemic to social science research, but it is our position that a prominent confounder variable—genetic influences—has largely gone overlooked. To briefly summarize our concern: if genetic influences underlie the etiology of antisocial behavior (see the meta-analyses discussed above Burt, 2009a,b; Ferguson, 2010; Mason & Frick, 1994; Miles & Carey, 1997; Rhee & Waldman, 2002) and the etiology of common criminological variables such as self-control (Boisvert et al., 2012; Nikolas & Burt, 2010), peer group formation (Cleveland et al., 2005), and broader social "
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    • "Married people therefore live longer because they enjoyed good health even before marriage (Goldman, 1993a; Mastekaasa, 1992; Manfredini, et al. 2010). Besides physical and mental health, which directly affect marriage selection, other factors have an indirect effect, such as physical attractiveness, income, level of education, health-related habits and emotional stability (Burt et al., 2010; Dixson et al. 2007; Hemstr€ om, 1996; Kiernan, 1988; South, 1991). Research on attractiveness indicates that body height is one of the most important characteristics determining overall physical attractiveness and differentiating chances in mating (Hensley, 1994; Shepperd and Strathman, 1989). "
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