Ethical, legal and social issues surrounding research on genetic contributions to anti-social behavior

Colleen M. Berryessa, Nicole A. Martinez-Martin, Megan A. Allyse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-610
Number of pages6
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Aggression
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Ethics
  • Physiological basis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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