Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Genes and Crime
Salomon Israel & Richard P. Ebstein
A growing body of empirical evidence over the last decade has shown that genetic factors play a causal role in the development of antisocial behaviors, many of which correlate positively with crime. While all people occasionally engage in some forms of antisocial acts, a few repeat offenders begin their offenses at an early age and are responsible for a disproportionate amount of criminal activity. Scholars characterize these individuals by their impulsivity and aggression; they are more likely to develop conduct disorders like antisocial personality. To the extent that attributes such as violence, aggression, and antisociality are heritable, criminality has a genetic basis. However, adopting this simplified deterministic view of a “gene for crime” would be a mistake. The actual interplay is far more complex. Genes associated with criminal behavior are likely to have small, nonspecific impacts and be entangled in numerous neurobiological pathways. Since the expression of genes influencing complex ...