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Jen Benson's picture

genetics and behavior

Some evidence, has in fact explored genetic predispositions for negative behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse and Tourette's syndrome. Having a biological parent with alcoholism increases the chances of drug abuse even if the child is raised by different parents, and the proclivity to use cocaine and opiates also appears to be heritable (Breedlove, Rosenzweig, and Watson, Biological Psychology). Certain environmental factors can of course interact with preexisting genetic components to make certain behaviors more likely.
Personality variables such as extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism have also been speculated from twin studies to be about 50% heritable, which can certainly impact the likelihood of certain negative behaviors. Broken families, poor relationships with parents, and the presence of an antisocial sibling are also associated with drug abuse. I just think it is valuable to consider the environmental affect on the expression of genetic factors, including those that developed during embryonic development. Fetal alcohol syndrome research, for example, certainly posits a relationship between prenatal development and later behavior.


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