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Sci Technol Human Values. 2015 Jul 1;40(4):459-486.

The media and behavioral genetics: Alternatives coexisting with addiction genetics.

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University of Minnesota Rochester, Rochester, MN, USA.
Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.
University of California, San Francisco, Institute for Health & Aging, San Francisco, CA, USA.


To understand public discourse in the U.S. on genetic causation of behavioral disorders, we analyzed media representations of genetic research on addiction published between 1990 and 2010. We conclude first that the media simplistically represent biological bases of addiction and willpower as being mutually exclusive: behaviors are either genetically determined, or they are a choice. Second, most articles provide only cursory or no treatment of the environmental contribution. A media focus on genetics directs attention away from environmental factors. Rhetorically, media neglect the complexity underlying of the etiology of addiction and direct focus back toward individual causation and responsibility.


Addiction; behavioral genetics; discourse analysis; genetics; media; science and knowledge

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