|Vol. 3, No. 2, 1997 Page 5|
Prisoners often complain that 'bad breaks" drove them to crime. But a new study suggests that these bad breaks often are a result not of fate, but of the criminals' own genetically-based personality traits.
John Billig et al. evaluated the relationship between life events and personality, studying 216 identical and 114 non-identical male twins to control for the effects of genetics. The 17-year-old subjects were asked about three types of life events:
Their data, Billig et al. say, revealed that "life events dependent on individual behavior [showed] significant genetic influence, and that this genetic influence [was] correlated with genetic influences on personality." In particular, the researchers say, their data suggest that "the attributes which characterize low-constraint individuals, such as impulsivity, recklessness, risk taking, and rebelliousness, induce adverse consequences in the individuals possessing these traits."
"Life events and personality in late adolescence: genetic and environmental relations," John P. Billig, Scott L. Hershberger, William G. Iacono, and Matt McGue, Behavior Genetics, Vol. 26,No. 6, 1996, pp. 543-554. Address: Scott L. Hershberger, Dept. of Psychology, University of Kansas, 426 Fraser Hall, Lawrence, Kansas 66045-2160.