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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2009 Aug;12(4):343-50. doi: 10.1375/twin.12.4.343.

The etiological moderation of aggressive and nonaggressive antisocial behavior by age.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States of America.


A recent study has suggested that aggressive (AGG) and non-aggressive, rule-breaking (RB) antisocial behavior evidence differential and subtype-specific patterns of genetic expression during development. Namely, although genetic influences on RB increase dramatically during early- to mid-adolescence, genetic influences on AGG appear to remain stable. As no other study has examined age-related change in AGG versus RB, more research is clearly needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn. The current study thus examined whether and how age impacted genetic and environmental influences on AGG and RB in a sample of 252 10- to 15-year-old twin pairs assessed as part of the Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR). Results constructively replicated and extended prior findings, indicating that while the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on AGG remained stable across adolescence, genetic influences on RB increased dramatically with age. Such findings provide additional support for etiological distinctions within the broader construct of antisocial behavior based on the presence or absence of aggression, and offer insights into the expression of genetic influences during development.

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