top of page

Genetic and Environmental Effect on a Person's Behavior

There is a large number of twin, adoption, and family studies that have been conducted for the past decades, using a classical approach. Interestingly, they all have provided abundant information about how impactful both genes and environment are on a person’s behavior, especially those with antisocial and criminal behavior. However, those studies are varied in their definition of criminal and antisocial behavior as well as how they are being measured. But, despite the different types of approaches, results show that they all agree that both genetics and environment play a very important role in antisocial and criminal behavior’s outcomes.

For instance, Caitlin J. and Institute of Technology (2005), have shown that both criminal and anti-social behavior can be related to both genetic and environmental factor. In fact, they argue in order for anyone to clearly understand to what degree genes and environmental factors influence a person’s behavior especially those with criminal and antisocial behavior, other than reports submitted by both parents and teachers, more observational studies are necessary (Caitlin J. and Institute of Technology, 2005). However, many are those who disagree with such a proposition due to the fact that sometimes it can be very difficult to validate information collected from those sources.

For those who disagree with the idea that observational studies and parental sources are two credible sources to get information on whether or not criminal behavior is influenced by one or another and to what degree, they suggest the best way to gather that information is by conducting twin, family, and adoption studies (Caitlin J. and Institute of Technology, 2005). In fact, based on a study conducted on DZ and MZ twins, the result shows that there is little sign that can demonstrate the close relationship that exists between hereditary and criminal behavior. However, when comparing twins with antisocial behavior it is evident that hereditary plays an important role in the development of anti-social behavior as well as many other forms of aggressions and criminality.

The same result found for the study of adoption and family, there are some significances that link criminal or antisocial behavior to genes, however, such a significance is not strong enough to make a strong conclusion due to the fact that most of the studies done on that matter cannot be replicated. When comparing genetically related individuals with such behavior with nonrelative individuals living in the same environment, the results show that there’s greater accordance of anti-social or criminal behavior in related individuals than nonrelated ones. The truth is that children influence by both their parents’ genes as well as the environment in which they are being raised. For that reason, there is not enough evidence to show between the environment and genetic factors, which one influence criminal behavior the most. On top of all that, Laura B. et al. (2014) and Raine A. et al. (2003).

In a study conducted by observing individuals’ differences, their conclusion show that “various correlates of anti-social behavior, as well as certain personality aspects of a person, such as impulsivity, sensation-seeking, risk-taking, and callous-unemotional traits, are known to be influenced at least partly genetically (Laura B. et al., 2014 and Raine A. et al, 2003). They also show that psychiatric outcomes related to antisocial behavior and criminality, such as antisocial personality disorder, gambling problem, and the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol are also being influenced by certain genetic factors. However, they also argue that genetic factors have different types of influences on different types of crimes (Laura B. et al., 2014 and Raine A. et al, 2003).

Laura B. et al. also show that shared environmental effects among those with antisocial or criminal behavior who are being reported by their parents and teachers, and those who are being reported by themselves or based on governmental reports, the rate is much higher among those reported by both teachers and parents. Laura B. et al., argue that the reason for such a difference is because most of the studies conducted on children with antisocial or criminal traits are heavily rely on parents and teachers’ testimonies or observations more than scientific research.

This so true, the same study shows that as those children grow, the percentage of developing antisocial behavior or being involved in criminal activities are lowered (Laura B. et al., 2014). This means, across a lifespan, the influence of both genetic and environmental factors appear to change significantly. But such a finding is not being shared by every expert. In fact, some show just the opposite. Some studies show there is a much larger presence of both genetic and environmental effects in adulthood than here is in childhood and adolescence.

For Eva F. et al. (2014). Both safe unsafe environment has a serious impact on antisocial disorder or behavior. In fact, according to Eva F. et al., safe neighborhoods are always associated with the low level and antisocial behavior while unsafe neighborhoods are associated with high level of antisocial behavior. This takes the debate over the role of nature and nurture in a person’s behavior a little further. In fact, according to Eva F. et al. (2014). Anti-social behavior can easily lead to crimes and later to more serious crimes. This means if taken the time to observe each crime committed there are great possibilities most of them would reveal most of those criminals had rebellious or other types of anti-social behavior when they were young or possibly were raised in neighborhoods where crimes were a serious social issue.

Beside unsafe neighborhood that can be a serious factor in criminal behavior, socio-economic factors are also great contributors to criminal behavior and other types of anti-social behavior. In a study conducted, result suggest that various factors in urban environments do have a serious impact on both criminal behavior and anti-social disorders. However, the finding falls short from demonstrating to what degree urban factors impact criminal and antisocial behavior.

Owens J. (2014), could not agree more with Eva F. et al. (2014). In a criminal case involving Landrigan and the state of Arizona, the lawyer argues that Landrigan’s criminal behavior is the result of him being neglected, mistreated, etc. way before he was born. He argued during pregnancy, the mother use to take both drugs and alcohol, after birth, he had to deal with early maternal rejection (Owens J. 2014). The lawyer further argues that Landrigan’s criminal behavior was not the result of “Free Will”. According to Landrigan’s lawyer, their client lacked the ability to choose a different path for his life, since all he's ever seen is violence and crimes. In other words, the lawyer’s argument is that Landrigan’s behavior is that product of both genetic and environmental factors. As a result, understanding to what degree those factors affect a person’s with criminal behavior should also be examined before giving a verdict. With such an argument, they were able to get a rehearing on his case (Owens J., 2014).

William G. et al. (2014), show numerous studies agree that alcoholism, drug abuse, and antisocial or criminal behaviors in childhood and adulthood run in the family. In a study conducted by the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart that took place between 1979-1988. 65 members of 32 sets of monozygotic sets, meaning twins and triplets participated in that study, despite certain variations, results show that there is a great possibility even though those twins might be separated from one another, certain behavioral traits found to be very identical (William G. et al., 2014).

A person behavior is a complex phenomenon that can’t be explained that easy. Behavior is a combination of multiple causes and factors triggered by various events in a person’s life. It results from the interaction of genes, the environment, developmental history, and the person’s brain functionality. To say that a person’s behavior is genetically influenced does not mean such behavior cannot be altered. With says, it is clear that criminal behavior can be the result of genetic and environmental factors and their interactions. However, to say that genes and environment have an important influence on criminal and antisocial behavior it does not mean genetically nor environmentally one can explain why some people commit crimes.

Ferguson C. et al. in the other hand show concrete evidence about how impactful genetic factors are on a person with antisocial and criminal behavior. In a Meta-analytic review done by Ferguson C. et al. (2014). The result shows that among those with antisocial behavior who participated in this review, their antisocial or criminal behavior is in fact influenced 40 to 50% genetically. However, the review falls short from explaining to what extend aggressive behavior links with criminal or antisocial behavior.

While Mairead et al. (2014) suggest that Aggressive behavior in early childhood is one of many indications that can help professionals to determine if a person will develop an antisocial personality disorder, antisocial behavior, or criminal behavior (Mairead D. et al. 2014). However, having said that, not everyone with aggressive behavior turns out to be criminals or develop antisocial behavior or disorders. But many studies suggest that aggressive behavior is associated with antisocial and criminal behavior at a later time (Mairead D. et al. 2014).

Jennifer R. et al (2014). Argue that in order reduce to anti-social behavior and crimes, not only early intervention is essential but also there must be some good public policies that respond to communities’ need separately. In this article Jennifer et al. argue (2014) that early interventions programs are critical in deterring antisocial behavior as well as criminal behavior, due to the fact that certain types of behavior such as delinquent behavior can lead to that child future deviant, antisocial or criminal behavior (Jennifer R. et al., 2014). Just like Caitlin et al., have suggested, Jennifer et al. have suggested that poverty plays a key role in criminal and antisocial behavior.

As result, policies that can reduce poverty is essential. However, since anti-social and criminal behavior involves different things in different countries and societies, it is very difficult to come up with one fit all intervention types. For example, interventions that help reduce criminal behavior here in the U.S. might not be that effective in Canada or Europe. As a result, effective interventions based programs must coincide with the culture and tradition of those they are intended to help (Jennifer R. et al., 2014).

Otu N. and Horton N. (2005). Believe in order to have a better understanding of crime and punishment, one must understand the role ethnicity and gender play in it. The study shows that blacks exhibit a higher level of involvement in criminal activities than any other race. However, when separate violent crimes from non-violent crime there is not much evidence about the role race plays in serious crime Otu N. and Horton N., 2005). The conclusion of that review is that race does not play an important role in criminal behavior as it appears to be in the population’s view. However, economic factors do, and since blacks are more likely to be raised in poor neighborhoods where criminal activities take place on a daily basis this can explain the reason why crime rates are at a higher level among blacks than any other race (Otu N. and Horton N., 2005).

I think the articles talk to each other, despite the multiple differences that exist among them, they all conclude that both genetics and environmental factors have a serious impact on a person to develop antisocial and criminal behavior. As a result, many suggestions are being made on how to help alter such behavior. What evidence shown by those articles show is that genes nor environmental factors have a greater influence on a person’s antisocial behavior, it is the interaction between the two that produce or encourage such behavior.

So the conclusion that criminal behavior is the result of genetics and environmental factors is plausible. Despite many advanced socio-psychological types of research that have been conducted on the matter, in order to understand better the role both nature and nurture play in a person's criminal and antisocial behaviors, there has not been much progress on that matter that can explain to what extent both genes and environment affect a person’s behavior. The conclusion here is that the interaction between these two forces on a person’s life and his/her behavior gains more traction than the one that argues environment and genes have serious effects on a person’s behavior. If I had to refine my topic it would be “Criminal Behaviors, are they the Result of Nature or Nurture?”

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page