Genetic influences on antisocial behavior over the life-course

Authored by: Catherine Tuvblad

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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Antisocial behavior is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes that violate societal norms, values and laws. Antisocial behavior includes aggression to those around them, cruelty, violence, theft, arson, and vandalism, as well as other forms of rule violations such as noncompliance, lying, intimidating, and manipulation. As such, antisocial behavior in various forms is of key significance in several psychiatric disorders, including oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder in children and adolescents, and antisocial personality disorder in adults (APA, 2004). This type of behavior is prevalent; self-reports have shown that between 50 and 80 percent of all youth participate in some form of antisocial behavior during their development (Rutter et al., 1998). The estimated prevalence rates of oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder vary between 1.2 and 15.4 percent, and 1.8 and 16 percent, respectively (Loeber et al., 2000). The prevalence of antisocial personality disorder is estimated to be between 1 and 3 percent in community settings, and up to 30 percent in forensic settings (APA, 2004). Moreover, antisocial behavior tends to co-occur with a range of problem behaviors and disorders, including substance abuse and dependence (Robins, 1966; White et al., 2001; Miles et al., 2002), psychiatric illnesses (e.g. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, anxiety) and pathological gambling (Rutter et al., 1998; Kim-Cohen et al., 2003; Grant and Potenza, 2007; Tuvblad et al., 2009). The behavior is also associated with various types of psychosocial problems, including unstable relationships, unreliable parenting, and underachievement in education and at work (Moffitt et al., 2002; Rutter et al., 2006). Individuals involved in antisocial behavior not only cause physical and mental health problems for their victims, but antisocial individuals themselves are at higher risk for violence and victimization (Rutter et al., 1998). In addition, antisocial behavior imposes not only a high social burden on society, but also an economic burden, including costs of the criminal justice system and compensation for victims and their families (McCollister et al., 2010).

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