Genetic and environmental pathways from personality risk to antisocial behavior
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Antisocial behaviors are a constellation of deviant behaviors that are disruptive and harmful to others. Antisocial behavior increases during adolescence and a number of factors are thought to precipitate this rise, including changes in personality, social and familial factors. This dissertation presents three studies that examine how individual differences in sensation seeking contribute to risk for adolescent antisocial behavior. Study 1 finds that the highest rates of delinquency occur from the concurrence of high sensation seeking, high peer deviance, and low parental monitoring. Moreover, peer deviance partially mediates the effects of sensation seeking and parental monitoring on adolescent delinquency. Study 2 finds that affiliation with deviant peers is associated with higher delinquency after controlling for selection effects using a co-twin-control comparison. There is also evidence for person-environment correlation; adolescents with genetic dispositions toward higher sensation seeking are more likely to report having deviant peers. Moreover, the environmentally-mediated effect of peer deviance on delinquency is moderated by individual differences in sensation seeking. Finally, study 3 examines the role of sensation seeking situated within a multivariate array of behavioral and self-report measures that index individual differences in risk-taking propensities.