Aggression and Violent Behavior
Volume 18, Issue 6, November–December 2013, Pages 605–610
By: Colleen M. Berryessa, Nicole A. Martinez-Martin, Megan A. Allyse
Stanford University, Center for Biomedical Ethics, United States
Scientific study of genetic contributions to chronic antisocial behavior has stemmed from many lines of research in recent years. Genetic research involving twin, family, and adoption studies has traditionally been used to compare the health and behavior outcomes of individuals who share the same environment or hereditary lineage; several of these studies have concluded that heredity plays some role in the formation of chronic antisocial behavior, including various forms of aggression and chronic norm-defiance. However, the ethical, social, and legal environment surrounding research on the biological contributions to antisocial behavior in the United States is contentious. Although there has been some discussion in the last few decades regarding the ethical, social, and legal concerns around this type of research within academic and policy circles, analysis and discussion of these concerns rarely appear together. This paper explores the main themes that interact to form the basis of much of the resistance to positing biological contributions to antisocial behavior.