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Antisocial Behavior

Elliot S. Gershon, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(11):900-901. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950230014004.
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The Modern debate on the causes of human behavioral differences goes back to the last century, when Francis Galton originated the phrase "nature vs nurture." He came down solidly on the side of "nature" as he understood it, which in retrospect is most unfortunate since he was acting on prejudice rather than evidence, and went on to be a proponent of eugenics and racism.1 Today, a generation after the Nazi mass murders with a pseudoscientific justification based on inherited "nature," it is understandable that genetics of behavior is not an acceptable variable in American political and social discourse.

Yet there is evidence for genetic factors in behavior, including mental illnesses and antisocial behavior, and it is timely that this evidence be examined and made use of by behavioral scientists. For antisocial behavior, adoption and twin studies since the 1970s have consistently implied a genetic factor, as reviewed elsewhere.2


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