The warrior gene

MAOA genotype and antisocial behavior in males

Authored by: Nicholas R. Holland , Matt DeLisi

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749


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In a remarkable change of direction, the study of antisocial behavior has transformed from an almost entirely environmental approach to a biosocial paradigm where biological, psychological, and sociological constructs are studied for their multifactorial effects on crime. With the advent of social science datasets that contain biological measures—including measures genes—a dizzying array of studies have been produced linking genetic variants to endophenotypes (e.g. individual-level and personality features such as temper, impulsivity, extraversion, negative emotionality, and aggression) associated with conduct problems and even criminological phenotypes. Several scholars have commented on this dramatic paradigm shift (Moffitt, 2005; Raine, 2008, 2013; Beaver, 2009; DeLisi, 2012; Rocque et al., 2012), and celebrated its role in the scientific ascendancy of criminology and criminal justice research. For instance, DeLisi (2009: 221) concluded:

Because of this marvelous scientific accomplishment [mapping the human genome], behavioral scientists can now access the role of nature and nurture in determining complex behavioral outcomes… The misleading black box of ‘nature or nurture’ has been replaced by a transparent understanding of nature and nurture. Consequently, there has never been a more exciting time to be a criminologist.

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