, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 311-326

Biosocial Studies of Antisocial and Violent Behavior in Children and Adults: A Review

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Despite increasing knowledge of social and biological risk factors for antisocial and violent behavior, we know surprisingly little about how these two sets of risk factors interact. This paper documents 39 empirical examples of biosocial interaction effects for antisocial behavior from the areas of genetics, psychophysiology, obstetrics, brain imaging, neuropsychology, neurology, hormones, neurotransmitters, and environmental toxins. Two main themes emerge. First, when biological and social factors are grouping variables and when antisocial behavior is the outcome, then the presence of both risk factors exponentially increases the rates of antisocial and violent behavior. Second, when social and antisocial variables are grouping variables and biological functioning is the outcome, then the social variable invariably moderates the antisocial–biology relationship such that these relationships are strongest in those from benign home backgrounds. It is argued that further biosocial research is critical for establishing a new generation of more successful intervention and prevention research.