New methods in gene–environment interplay

The extended children of twin design

Authored by: Qiang “John” Fu

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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Criminology has traditionally studied causes of crime from an almost purely environmental perspective. Recent research has begun to elucidate genetic influences on criminal behavior (Vaughn et al., 2009; Walsh and Beaver, 2009). The major shortcoming of criminological research using samples that are not genetically informed is the inability to separate genetic and family-environmental confounding effects. Behavior genetics is concerned with genetic and environmental influences on individual difference in natural populations using twin designs. The twin method is one of the major methods used in quantitative genetics to investigate genetic and environmental influences and architecture of behavioral traits (Neale and Cardon, 1982). By now, it is known that genetic effects can be found in all aspects of behavior. Since the genotype pre-exists all behavior, these genetic influences have to be considered a cause at some level. In addition, twin-family studies are uniquely able to address the complex interplay between gene and environment characterized as gene–environment interaction and correlation (Plomin et al., 1977; Kendler and Eaves, 1986). We begin by introducing the logic and assumptions of the classical twin design. Then we describe the children of twins (CoT) design. Last, we expand the topic to the extended children of twins (eCoT) design.

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