The genetic and environmental etiology of antisocial behavior from childhood to emerging adulthood

Behav Genet. 2011 Sep;41(5):629-40. doi: 10.1007/s10519-011-9463-4. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Previous research suggests that both genetic and environmental influences are important for antisocial behavior across the life span, even though the prevalence and incidence of antisocial behavior varies considerably across ages. However, little is known of how genetic and environmental effects influence the development of antisocial behavior. A total of 2,600 male and female twins from the population-based Swedish Twin Registry were included in the present study. Antisocial behavior was measured on four occasions, when twins were 8-9, 13-14, 16-17, and 19-20 years old. Longitudinal analyses of the data were conducted using structural equation modeling. The stability of antisocial behavior over time was explained by a common latent persistent antisocial behavior factor. A common genetic influence accounted for 67% of the total variance in this latent factor, the shared environment explained 26%, and the remaining 7% was due to the non-shared environment. Significant age-specific shared environmental factors were found at ages 13-14 years, suggesting that common experiences (e.g., peers) are important for antisocial behavior at this age. Results from this study show that genetic as well as shared environmental influences are important in antisocial behavior that persists from childhood to emerging adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology
  • Behavior
  • Child
  • Diseases in Twins
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Twins, Dizygotic
  • Twins, Monozygotic
  • Young Adult