Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Alexander T. Vazsonyi


Although the rates of delinquent behavior have been decreasing since the 1990s, adolescent delinquent behavior continues to take a great toll on society as well as on perpetrators themselves. In this way, it is essential to understand the process of delinquency development. The current dissertation is comprised of three studies that analyzed the predictors and the development of delinquency using genetically-informed designs. The sample used for all studies comes from the Add Health dataset, a nationally-representative data on adolescents followed across 14 years.

The first study modeled the longitudinal development of delinquency in three adolescent cohorts: early, middle, and late adolescence. The results showed significant heritability effects on delinquency, with varying estimates across cohorts. The longitudinal stability of delinquency was mostly driven by heritability, while changes were affected by nonshared environmental influences.

The second study tested the GxE interaction between two dopaminergic polymorphisms (DRD4 7-repeat allele and DRD2 A1 allele) and parenting, operationalized by child abuse on the one negative extreme and maternal closeness on the other, in longitudinally predicting delinquent behaviors. Main effects of maternal closeness and childhood abuse on later delinquency were found. On the other hand, no significant interaction of DRD2 or DRD4 polymorphisms with either maternal closeness or childhood abuse were observed.

The third study used a twin design to test whether neighborhood disadvantage has a genetic component and whether this might be explained by an individual’s IQ and self-control. The results showed substantial heritability of the neighborhoods the individuals moved into as adults. This was partly explained by IQ, as adolescents’ IQ predicted neighborhood disadvantage 14 years later.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)