Stability of delinquent peer associations: A biosocial test of warr's sticky-friends hypothesis

Kevin M. Beaver, Chris L. Gibson, Michael G. Turner, Matt DeLisi, Michael G. Vaughn, Ashleigh Holand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The study of delinquent peers has remained at the forefront of much criminological research and theorizing. One issue of particular importance involves the factors related to why people associate with and maintain a sustained involvement with delinquent peers. Although efforts have been made to address these questions, relatively little attempt has been made to understand these relationships from a biosocial perspective. This gap in the literature is addressed in an analysis of twins from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The results of the univariate behavioral genetic models reveal that genetic factors account for between 58% and 74% of the variance in the association with delinquent peers, with the remaining variance attributable to environmental factors. Bivariate Cholesky decomposition models reveal that genetic factors account for 58% of the variance in the stability in delinquent peers. The shared environment explains 34% of the variance in stability, and the remaining 8% is attributable to the nonshared environment. The importance of a biosocial approach in criminological research is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-927
Number of pages21
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( ).

Funding Information:
Kevin M. Beaver earned his PhD from the University of Cincinnati in 2006 and was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Institute of Justice. He is assistant professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. His research examines the ways in which the environment intersects with biological and genetic factors to produce delinquent and criminal behaviors. He is author of Biosocial Criminology: A Primer (Kendall/Hunt, 2009) and co-editor (with Anthony Walsh) of Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research (Routledge, 2009).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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