Cutting Edge Research from SCCJ
Joe Schwartz, Ph.D., and doctoral students Starr Solomon and Bradon Valgardson Take a Closer Look at Peers, Genes, and Delinquency in a New Study
In a new study forthcoming in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Professor Joe Schwartz along with two doctoral students, Starr Solomon and Bradon Valgardson, examine the extent to which exposure to delinquent peers may result in changes in genetic influences on delinquency during adolescence. The study found that while peers tend to engage in similar levels of delinquency even before coming into contact with one another, overall behavioral patterns within peer groups became even more similar over time. These changes in behavior were the result of changes in both genetic and environmental influences. Youth in more delinquent peer groups committed a greater number of delinquent acts and this association was largely driven by socialization within peer groups, not genetic influences. However, the opposite pattern was observed for less delinquent peer groups, where genetic influences on delinquent behavior increased as exposure to delinquent peers decreased. These findings indicate that the ways in which peers contribute to delinquent behavior are probably more complex than previously thought and operate through a combination of both social and biological influences.
Article published March, 2018