Genes and delinquent friends

Criminology researchers at Florida State University have found a possible genetic link to delinquent peer association among adolescent boys. Professor Kevin Beaver collected information about family friends and DNA of over 1800 boys in middle and high schools. They linked a variation in the Dopamine Transporter gene to affiliation with delinquent peers. However, the connection existed only for boys in high-risk family environments; those with the same gene in low-risk families did not show the same peer group preference.

Beaver and his colleagues argue that the findings suggest an interaction between genetic predispositions and environment that may have an impact on behaviour. Alternatively, the presence of the gene may be associated with a preference for delinquent peers, but boys in low-risk families may have fewer opportunities for such affiliation. No link was found between peer preference and the gene among girls.

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