Common Genetic Influences on the Association Between Adolescent Sexual Attitudes and Aggressive Behaviors

Bo Cleveland, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Richard P. Wiebe, Northeastern University

ABSTRACT
This study examines the etiology of the association between attitudes that encourage sexual behavior ("prosex" attitudes) and aggression among adolescents using data drawn from the sibling sample of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). First, among those in the analysis data set (N = 1,302), prosex attitudes and aggression were significantly correlated (r = .21). Second, cross-sibling correlations for aggression, comparing monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins, full siblings, and half siblings, provided clear evidence of moderate genetic influence, and little shared environmental influence. Third, similar analyses of prosex attitudes provided similar results. Fourth, model fitting using the Mx program indicated that there were no significant shared environmental influences on the relationship between prosex attitudes and aggression among adolescents. Rather, this ssociation was completely genetic, although there were significant unique genetic influences as well on prosex attitudes, and significant unshared environmental influences on both aggression and prosex attitudes. Discussion will focus on the theoretical implications of genetic mediation of the association between attitudes that encourage sexual behavior (prosex attitudes) and aggression among adolescents for problem behavior theory (Jessor and Jessor, 1977) and evolutionary socialization theory (Belsky, Steinberg, and Draper, 1991).

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Updated 05/20/2006