Sex Differences in the Etiology of Aggressive and Nonaggressive Antisocial Behavior: Results from Two Twin Studies

Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, England, United Kingdom
Child Development (Impact Factor: 4.72). 01/1999; 70(1):155-68. DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00012
Source: PubMed


Recent theory and results from twin and adoption studies of children and adolescents suggest greater genetic influence on aggressive as compared to nonaggressive antisocial behavior. In addition, quantitative or qualitative differences in the etiology of these behaviors in males and females have been indicated in the literature. The Child Behavior Checklist was completed by the parents of 1022 Swedish twin pairs aged 7-9 years and of 501 British twin pairs aged 8-16 years. Genetic factors influenced aggressive antisocial behavior to a far greater extent than nonaggressive antisocial behavior, which was also significantly influenced by the shared environment. There was a significant sex difference in the etiology of nonaggressive antisocial behavior. Bivariate analyses supported the conclusion that the etiologies of aggressive and nonaggressive antisocial behavior differ for males and females.

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    • "Moreover, there are even fewer studies that investigate the sources of vulnerability for delinquency among youth who do not encounter traditional risk factors. Given the typical onset of delinquency and the emergence of sex differences in antisocial behavior (especially violent behavior) during adolescence (Eley et al. 1999; Vaske et al. 2014; Wang et al. 2013), examining the sources of variation in responses to risks for males and females could enhance our understanding of the relationships between risks and behavioral outcomes. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research on adolescent risk factors for delinquency has suggested that, due to genetic differences, youth may respond differently to risk factors, with some youth displaying resilience and others a heightened vulnerability. Using a behavioral genetic design and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, this study examines whether there are sex differences in the genetic and environmental factors that influence the ways in which adolescents respond to cumulative risk for violent, nonviolent, and overall delinquency in a sample of twins (152 MZ male, 155 MZ female, 140 DZ male, 130 DZ female, and 204 DZ opposite-sex twin pairs). The results revealed that males tended to show greater vulnerability to risk for all types of delinquency, and females exhibited greater resilience. Among males, additive genetic factors accounted for 41, 29, and 43 % of the variance in responses to risk for violent, nonviolent, and overall delinquency, respectively. The remaining proportion of variance in each model was attributed to unique environmental influences, with the exception of 11 % of the variance in nonviolent responses to risk being attributed to common environmental factors. Among females, no significant genetic influences were observed; however, common environmental contributions to differences in the ways females respond to risk for violent, nonviolent, and overall delinquency were 44, 42, and 45 %, respectively. The remaining variance was attributed to unique environmental influences. Overall, genetic factors moderately influenced males' responses to risk while environmental factors fully explain variation in females' responses to risk. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of improving the understanding of relationships between risks and outcomes, as well as informing policy and practice with adolescent offenders.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
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    • "Accumulating evidence suggests that impulsive violent behavior is partially determined by genetic factors.[5] A previous study found that dopamine D3 receptor (DRD3) polymorphism is highly associated with impulsivity.[6] "
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    ABSTRACT: BackgroundAnalysis of genetic polymorphisms in short tandem repeats (STRs) is an accepted method for detecting associations between genotype and phenotype but it has not previously been used in the study of the genetics of impulsive violent behavior.ObjectiveCompare the prevalence of different polymorphisms in 15 STR loci (D8S1179, D21S11, D7S820, CSF1PO, D3S1358, TH01, D13S317, D16S539, D2S1338, D19S433, vWA, TPOX, D18S51, D5S818 and FGA) between men with a history of impulsive violence and male control subjects without a history of impulsive violence.MethodsThe distributions of the alleles of the 15 STR loci were compared between 407 cases with impulsive violent behavior and 415 controls using AmpFlSTR® Identifiler™ kits.ResultsCompared to controls, the average frequencies of the following alleles were significantly lower in individuals with a history of violent behavior: allele 10 of TH01 (OR=0.29, 95%CI=0.16-0.52, p<0.0001,), allele 8 of TPOX (OR=0.71, 95%CI=0.58-0.86, p=0.0005), allele 9 of TPOX (OR=0.65, 95%CI=0.47-0.89, p=0.0072) and allele 14 of CSF1PO (OR=0.27, 95%CI=0.11-0.68, p=0.0035). One allele was significantly higher in cases than controls: allele 11 of TPOX (OR=1.79, 95%CI=1.45-2.22, p<0.0001).ConclusionsTo the best of our knowledge, this is the first behavioral genetic study that clearly demonstrates a close relationship between specific genetic markers and impulsive aggression in non-psychiatric offenders. Further prospective work will be needed to determine whether or not the alleles identified can be considered risk factors for impulsive aggression and, if so, the underlying mechanisms that result in this relationship.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry
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    • "However, within the broad category of antisocial behavior problems, the question of aggressive behavior versus rule-breaking behavior (rule-breaking) is an important one. Also referred to as overt (aggressive) and covert (nonaggressive, delinquency or rule-breaking) in past work (Loeber & Hay, 1997), these patterns of behavior are correlated and are known to co-occur at rates higher than would be expected by chance (Eley, et al. 1999). However, evidence has also emerged to support that these are distinct forms of behavior that should be considered separately when studying antisocial behavior. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated genetic and environmental commonalities and differences between aggressive and non-aggressive antisocial behavior (ASB) in male and female child and adolescent twins, based on a newly developed self-report questionnaire with good reliability and external validity - the Self-Report Delinquency Interview (SR-DI). Subjects were 780 pairs of twins assessed through laboratory interviews at three time points in a longitudinal study, during which the twins were: (1) ages 9-10 years; (2) age 11-13 years, and (3) age 16-18 years. Sex differences were repeatedly observed for mean levels of ASB. In addition, diverse change patterns of genetic and environmental emerged, as a function of sex and form of ASB, during the development from childhood to adolescence. Although there was some overlap in etiologies of aggressive and non-aggressive ASB, predominantly in shared environmental factors, their genetic overlap was moderate and the non-shared environmental overlap was low. Taken together, these results reinforced the importance of differentiating forms of ASB and further investigating sex differences in future research. These results should be considered in future comparisons between youth self-report and parental or teacher report of child and adolescent behavior, and may help elucidate commonalities and differences among informants.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Criminal Justice
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