[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Proponents of life history strategy (LHS) theory propose that it is an explanation of intra-societal non-political violence, such as homicide and assault. Criminologists usually prefer a different explanation: variation in national violent crime rates is a function of differences in social-structural characteristics, such as absolute or relative poverty (socioeconomic inequality).We found that national homicide rates and prevalence of muggings and attacks on people define a strong single criminal violence factor at the national level. We tested the predictive properties of various plausible predictors of this factor and, separately, of national murder rates. Only the two LHS variables (paternal absenteeism and adolescent fertility) predict the complex factor independently, whereas socioeconomic inequality (Gini), IQ, GDP, infant mortality, and pathogen prevalence do not. National murder rates are predicted by the two LHS variables and inequality but not by any other variables. This supports LHS theory as an explanation of national differences in criminal violence.
No preview · Article · Jul 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: In this article, we outline the potential ways that genetic research can be used to inform the development, testing, and dissemination of preventative interventions. We conclude by drawing attention to how the incorporation of genetic variables into prevention designs could help identify individual variability in program effectiveness and thereby increase program success rates. Policy Implications: Evidence-based prevention science seeking to reduce crime and other related behavioral disorders has made significant progress in the identification of risk factors involved in the development of antisocial behavior, as well as in the creation and testing of such programs intended to target these risk factors. Nonetheless, issues of program effectiveness remain as individual responsivity to prevention interventions is often overlooked. Paralleling the movement toward evidence-based prevention science, but largely isolated from such efforts, has been an area of research devoted toward identifying how genetic factors interact with social environments to influence behavioral outcomes. By joining these two fields, genetically informed prevention interventions have the potential to increase our understanding of the causes of crime and other problem behaviors, as well as to help identify individual variability in program effectiveness.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: This study examined the association between sexual orientation and nonviolent and violent delinquency across the life course. We analyzed self-reported nonviolent and violent delinquency
in a sample of heterosexual males (N=5220–7023) and females (N=5984–7875), bisexuals (N=34–73),gay males (N=145–189), and lesbians (N=115–150) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). The analyses revealed, in general, that bisexuals were the most delinquent of the sexual orientation categories for both males and females. Additional analyses revealed that heterosexual males reported significantly higher levels of both violent and nonviolent
delinquency than gay males, whereas lesbians reported more involvement in nonviolent delinquency and, to a lesser extent, violent delinquency relative to heterosexual females. Analyses also revealed
that lesbians reported significantly more delinquent behavior, particularly for nonviolent delinquency, than gay males. Future research should explore the mechanisms that account for these observed patterns and how they can be used to more fully understand the etiology of delinquency.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2016 · Archives of Sexual Behavior
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: A large body of research indicates that variation in intelligence is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Despite this knowledge, much of the research examining environmental influences on intelligence is not conducted using genetically informative research designs. In order to address this gap in the literature, this study examines the potential association between nonshared environments and measures of intelligence (recall ability) in adulthood using monozygotic (MZ) difference scores analyses. Analysis of MZ twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health revealed that none of the nonshared environmental variables were consistently related to recall ability. One nonshared environmental variable, maternal disengagement, was found to be a significant predictor of recall ability in two of the four recall tasks. In addition, measures of maternal attachment and delinquent peers were found to be associated with only one test of word recall ability and none of the three other recall tests.
No preview · Article · Apr 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Despite the wealth of knowledge on subclass formation for antisocial behavior among youth
from the United States and other Western industrialized countries, very little is known about
the subclass structure for antisocial behavior among youth growing up in other geographical
contexts. Using validated measures of aggression, psychopathy, and low self-control, we
employ latent class analysis to identify latent subgroups of antisocial behavior from a sample of
324 Saudi Arabian youth. Three classes of antisocial behavior emerged and significant associations
between latent class membership and different forms of delinquency were observed.
The findings are the first to show a similar pattern of latent class formation for antisocial
behavior and risk for violent and nonviolent delinquency among Saudi Arabian youth compared
to U.S. youth.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2016 · Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: There has been significant interest in examining the developmental factors that predispose individuals to chronic criminal offending. This body of research has identified some social-environmental risk factors as potentially important. At the same time, the research producing these results has generally failed to employ genetically sensitive research designs, thereby potentially generating biased parameter estimates. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by using both a standard social science methodology (SSSM) and two separate genetically informative research designs to examine whether parent, teacher, and peer risk factors are associated with four maladaptive outcomes: arrests, low IQ, reduced self-control, and a combined measure of the “truly disadvantaged.” Analysis of twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health revealed that the SSSMs produced upwardly biased estimates of the impact of social-environmental influences on each of the four outcomes. Once genetic factors were controlled, the effect of social-environmental risk was reduced (but remained significant in certain cases). We conclude by discussing these findings in the context of criminal justice policy and their implications for future criminological research.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · International Journal of Behavioral Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: There has been a significant amount of interest in understanding some of the key issues related to school suspensions and expulsions. One of the more intriguing and studied of these issues has to do with factors that contribute to variation in school disciplinary sanctions. To date, however, no research has examined the genetic architecture to either suspensions or expulsions. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by analyzing a sample of twin pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). The results of the analyses revealed that shared and nonshared environmental factors accounted for the variation in suspensions. Genetic influences, in contrast, were the dominant source of variation for expulsions. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings and avenues for future research.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Personality and Individual Differences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The current study examined whether adolescent IQ predicted risk for mortality by the age of 32. Analyses of data from the Add Health revealed that IQ was related to mortality risk, such that respondents with relatively lower IQs were significantly more likely to experience early life mortality when compared with respondents with comparatively higher IQs. This association remained statistically significant even after controlling for a host of covariates such as race, gender, involvement in violent behaviors, levels of self-control, and poverty. The average IQ of deceased respondents was approximately 95 while the average IQ of living respondents was about 100.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: A substantial body of research has reported significant associations between children's levels of self-control and a variety of academic and behavioural outcomes. As a result, studies have begun to investigate the factors involved in the development of self-control. The current study builds on this body of research and examines the extent to which neuropsychological functioning and adversity influence the development of self-control from kindergarten to the end of fifth grade. Utilizing data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), findings from the cross-sectional analysis revealed neuropsychological functioning to be significantly associated with the development of self-control, net of the presence of home, school, and environmental adversity. The longitudinal analysis revealed similar findings; however, home adversity surfaced as the most salient predictor of self-control during late childhood. Together, these findings highlight the importance of individual and environmental factors in the creation of children's self-control.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Early Child Development and Care
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: The current study explores whether: (a) nutritional factors among adolescent males predict their risk of exhibiting verbal deficits and psychopathic traits during adulthood and (b) the link between nutritional factors and these outcomes is conditioned by the MAOA genotype. The study analyzes data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative, genetically informative sample. We find evidence that meal deprivation increases the likelihood of both verbal deficits and psychopathic personality traits, whereas poor quality nutrition increases the risk of verbal deficits. We detect the presence of a number of gene-environment interactions between measures of food quality and MAOA genotype, but no evidence of GxE in the case of meal deprivation. Limitations are noted and avenues for future research are discussed.
Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Introduction
A topic often overlooked in the criminological literature is whether and to what extent biological or developmental male characteristics explain variation in fighting ability during adolescence. The current study was designed to add to the existing literature on this topic by examining whether two physical attributes—height and bulk—were associated with being a skilled fighter during this life-course period.
Methods and Materials
Data for the current study were drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health. Self-reports from male respondents regarding previous fighting experiences were used to assess skilled physical fighting ability. Self-reports of height and bulk were used to assess male physicality. A series of logistic regression models were estimated to examine the associations between fighting ability, height, and bulk.
Analysis of adolescent males revealed that taller and bulkier males were significantly more likely to be characterized as a skilled physical fighter. These significant associations could not be explained by whether they had any fighting experience or whether they had used weapons in physical fights.
Overall, the results suggest that height and bulk are two observable biological indicators of skilled physical fighting among males.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Purpose: Agnew (2014) has recently called for future research on General Strain Theory (GST) to focus on examining the interplay between genetic and environmental factors in order to more accurately understand the developmental origins of antisocial behavior. The current study aimed to answer this call by using kinship pair data from a longitudinal population-based sample. Methods: Behavioral genetic methods were used to assess gene–environment interplay between anger, family conflict, and violence using a subsample of kinship pairs drawn from the Child and Young Adult Supplement of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Results: Results revealed a significant shared genetic liability for anger and exposure to family conflict indicating gene–environment correlation (rGE). After controlling for rGE, nonshared environmental effects on anger were found to be stronger at higher levels of family conflict implying that family conflict experiences unique to each sibling were involved in creating individual differences in anger. Results also suggested that genetic and nonshared environmental effects accounted for the longitudinal association between anger and physical violence. Conclusions: Findings from the current study underscore the importance of using genetically informed method-ologies to identify underlying risk factors involved in both exposure and response to different forms of strain.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Criminal Justice
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: An impressive literature has revealed that variation in virtually every measurable phenotype is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental influences. Based on these findings, studies that fail to use genetically informed modeling strategies risk model misspecification and biased parameter estimates. Twin-and adoption-based research designs have frequently been used to overcome this limitation. Despite the many advantages of such approaches, many available datasets do not contain samples of twins, siblings or adoptees, making it impossible to utilize these modeling strategies. The current study proposes a measurement strategy for estimating the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behavior (ASB) within a nationally representative sample of singletons using an extended pedigree risk approach that relies on information from first-and second-degree relatives. An evaluation of this approach revealed a pattern of findings that directly aligned with studies examining ASB using more traditional twin-and adoption-based research designs. While the proposed pedigree risk approach is not capable of effectively isolating genetic and environmental influences, this overall alignment in results provides tentative evidence suggesting that the proposed pedigree risk measure effectively captures genetic influences. Future replication studies are necessary as this observation remains preliminary. Whenever possible, more traditional quantitative genetic methodologies should be favored, but the presented strategy remains a viable alternative for more limited samples.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Twin Research and Human Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Life-course-persistent (LCP) offending has been intensely studied over the last several decades resulting in an impressive amount of evidence linking chronic offending with a host of negative outcomes including violence, impulsiveness, and sexual promiscuity. Although much evidence also exists regarding the origins of LCP offending, emergent work is attempting to unify this knowledge under the umbrella of evolutionary biology using life history theory. The current study draws on this work—specifically, the Evolutionary Taxonomy—in order to further probe the etiology of chronic antisocial behavior. Using quantitative genetic methods and data from a national sample of twins, the current study examines whether LCP offending and the life history trait of sexual promiscuity might be linked at an underlying genetic level. Analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) data suggest that a shared genetic scaffold might be responsible for some of the covariation of LCP offending with the life history trait of sexual promiscuity. Specifically, the current analyses revealed evidence that overlapping genetic factors influenced both sexual involvement and LCP offender classification. Our results offer insight regarding the evolution of the traits that distinguish LCP offenders from the rest of the population. LCP offending may represent a set of life history traits that, over the course of human evolution, clustered together in small segments of the population. The findings lend support for the Evolutionary Taxonomy proposed to explain the ultimate origins of criminal offending.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Multiple scientific disciplines have weighed in with different viewpoints regarding the origins of criminal behavior among human beings. What is lacking, however, is a framework capable of uniting the theoretical viewpoints into a single overarching perspective. The current article offers such a framework. Drawing on a variety of influences, we argue that many types of crime can be understood in the evolutionary context of human life history. Along these lines, we present a framework capable of explaining different patterns of criminal offending both at the individual level as well as the macro-level. Although the current article offers only a starting point, the way forward in the study of crime should involve a multi-disciplinary, multilevel explanatory framework. The evolutionary taxonomy we propose represents a step in that direction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Objectives: Recent violent attacks on college campuses in the United States have sparked discussions regarding the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and the perpetration of violence among college students. While previous studies have examined the potential association between mental health problems and violent behavior, the overall pattern of findings flowing from this literature remain mixed and no previous studies have examined such associations among college students.
Methods: The current study makes use of a nationally representative sample of 3,929 college students from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) to examine the prevalence of seven violent behaviors and 19 psychiatric disorder diagnoses tapping mood, anxiety, personality, and substance use disorders. Associations between individual and composite psychiatric disorder diagnoses and violent behaviors were also examined. Additional analyses were adjusted for the comorbidity of multiple psychiatric diagnoses.
Results: The results revealed that college students were less likely to have engaged in violent behavior relative to the non-student sample, but a substantial portion of college students had engaged in violent behavior. Age- and sex-standardized prevalence rates indicated that more than 21% of college students reported at least one violent act. In addition, more than 36% of college students had at least one diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Finally, the prevalence of one or more psychiatric disorders significantly increased the odds of violent behavior within the college student sample.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that violence and psychiatric disorders are prevalent on college campuses in the United States, though perhaps less so than in the general population. In addition, college students who have diagnosable psychiatric disorders are significantly more likely to engage in various forms of violent behavior.