TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Adolescent males who possess a certain type of variation in a specific gene are more likely to flock to delinquent peers, U.S. researchers said.
Florida State University criminologist Kevin M. Beaver said research has long linked anti-social, drug-using and criminal behavior to delinquent peers.
However, the study led by Beaver established a statistically significant association between an affinity for anti-social peer groups and a particular variation -- the 10-repeat allele -- of the dopamine transporter gene.
"This research is groundbreaking because it shows that the propensity in some adolescents to affiliate with delinquent peers is tied up in the genome," Beaver said in a statement.
The study, published in the Journal of Genetic Psychology, said the analysis of family, peer and DNA data from 1,816 boys in middle and high school found that the association between dopamine transporter gene and delinquent peer affiliation applied primarily for those who had both the 10-repeat allele and a high-risk family environment -- one marked by a disengaged mother and an absence of maternal affection.
However, adolescent males with the same gene variation who lived in low-risk families with high levels of maternal engagement and warmth showed no statistically relevant affinity for antisocial friends.