The etiology of criminal onset: The enduring salience of nature and nurture

Matt DeLisi, Kevin M. Beaver, John Paul Wright, Michael G. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), the current study was the first to use measures of genetic polymorphisms (DRD2 and DRD4) to empirically examine the onset of crime. Net of the effects of race, age, gender, and low self-control, genetic polymorphisms explained variation in police contacts and arrest, but only among youths in low risk family environments. Moreover, youths with genetic risk factors experienced a later onset than youths without these risk factors. Borrowing from the behavioral and molecular genetics literatures, various interpretations of the findings are discussed as well as a call for increasingly interdisciplinary perspectives in criminology that encompass both sociological and biosocial frameworks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research used data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from seventeen other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due 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 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516–2524 ( ). We thank Tom Blomberg and the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University for providing the financial support needed to obtain the restricted-use version of the Add Health data.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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