School Performance and Genetic and Environmental Variance in Antisocial Behavior at the Transition From Adolescence to Adulthood

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Abstract

Antisocial behavior increases in adolescence, particularly among those who perform poorly in school. As adolescents move into adulthood, both educational attainment and the extent to which antisocial behavior continues have implications for adolescents' abilities to take on constructive social roles. The authors used a population-representative longitudinal twin study to explore how links among genetic and environmental influences at ages 17 and 24 may be implicated in the developmental processes involved. At age 17, expression of both genetic and nonshared environmental vulnerabilities unique to antisocial behavior was greater among those with low GPA than among those with higher GPA. This suggested that maintenance of high GPA buffered the impact of both genetic and environmental influences encouraging antisocial behavior. When GPA was high, both genetic and environmental influences involved in both traits encouraged good school performance and restrained antisocial behavior. At age 24, however, correlated family environmental influences drove the association between educational attainment and antisocial behavior. Antisocial characteristics involving school performance and educational attainment that transcend generations may slot individuals into social categories that restrict opportunities and reinforce antisocial characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-987
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • antisocial behavior
  • gene-environment correlation
  • gene-environment interaction
  • genetic influence
  • school performance

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