Why DRD4? An evolutionary-informed model of DRD4 and antisocial behavior

Authored by: Julia Dmitrieva , Emma Espel

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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The past two decades have seen a growing interest in genetic underpinnings of personality traits and behavior (Moffitt, 2005; Rutter, 2006). Advances in molecular biology and sequencing have brought promise of unlocking the genetic code for human behavior and psychopathology, followed by numerous reports of null findings and very small effect sizes (Maher, 2008; Makowsky et al., 2011; Turkheimer, 2011). Although frustrating to molecular biologists, this lack of findings should be welcome news to social scientists—indeed, the idea that complex behavior, such as antisocial behavior, could be linked to a single gene greatly oversimplifies the complexity of human behavior. Thus the search for the missing gene (the one gene–one disorder hypothesis) has turned to the search for the missing gene × environment interaction (Beaver et al., 2012). The dopamine receptor d4 gene (DRD4) has a unique evolutionary history and population distribution, making it a particularly promising gene for studying how it interacts with environment. This chapter aims to clarify the mechanisms that link the dopamine receptor gene (DRD4) and adolescent antisocial behavior.

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