Sex differences in antisocial behavior
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The purpose of this research was to gain insight into the etiology of antisocial behavior (AB; delinquency, conduct disorder symptoms and antisocial personality disorder symptoms) through study of the mechanisms underlying sex differences in antisociality. Research has repeatedly shown that males engage in more AB than females, and study of the causes of this sex difference can provide clues about the causes of AB within each sex. An understanding of the mechanisms underlying the sex difference in AB was achieved via conduct of three separate studies with complementary strengths and weaknesses. The first study focused on current self-reported delinquency assessed via paper-and-pencil questionnaire surveys in a population-based sample of 85,000 male and female Iowa schoolchildren between 10-19 years of age. The second study focused on retrospectively reported lifetime conduct disorder symptoms assessed by telephone interview in a genetically informative sample of Australian same-sex male, same-sex female, and opposite-sex twins. Both of these two studies examined sex differences in vulnerability to risk for AB as well as sex differences in exposure to risk for AB in an effort to better understand the causes of the sex difference in the prevalence of AB. The third study focused on identifying sex differences in the genetic and environmental influences on childhood conduct disorder and adult antisocial behavior in a sample of 6,389 adult male-, female- and opposite-sex twins. Ultimately, findings from the proposed research can be integrated with prior and future research to form a theory of the causes of antisociality that can explain the vast sex difference in the prevalence of AB.
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