Evidence for a genetic etiology of early-onset delinquency

Jeanette Taylor, William G Iacono, Matt Mc Gue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Age at onset of antisocial behavior discriminates persistent and transitory offenders. The authors proposed that early-onset delinquency has an underlying genetic influence that manifests in problems related to inhibition, whereas late-onset delinquency is more environmentally mediated. To test these notions, they selected 36 early starters, 86 late starters, and 25 nondelinquent controls from a large sample of 11-year-old twins and compared them on several measures related to inhibition and a peer group measure. As expected, early starters had more psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems related to inhibition than late starters and controls. A longitudinal analysis indicated an increase in antisocial behavior among peers of late starters shortly before their delinquency onset. Family history data and a twin analysis provided evidence of greater genetic influence on early-onset than late-onset delinquency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-643
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


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