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Decades of research from numerous academic fields has provided unequivocal support that both genes and the environment are critically involved in shaping human behavior. More recently, researchers have begun to explore the manner in which genetic and environmental factors intertwine to sculpt behavioral outcomes. A growing body of evidence suggests that the expression of certain genetic tendencies may be directly moderated by exposure to certain environmental conditions. Research on the interaction between genes and the environment is helping to shed light on the developmental origins of a number of pathological outcomes including mental illness, aggression, violence, and criminality. To this point, researchers have tended to focus almost exclusively on the capability of early-life environments to condition the effects of genes on behavior. While this line of inquiry has greatly increased the knowledge base concerning the development of deviant tendencies, there remains a need to examine whether alternative environmental pathogens condition genetic predispositions for deviance. Schools represent one type of environment that has been exhaustively examined by criminologists, and that has been consistently linked with the deviant behavior of adolescents. Currently, however, almost no evidence exists related to whether school conditions moderate genetic influences on adolescent misbehavior. Using data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the current dissertation addresses this question by examining the moderating effects of school environments on a range of antisocial outcomes. The results of the analysis revealed partial evidence that school-level factors condition the effects of genes on a range of antisocial behaviors. The implications of these findings for the field of criminology are discussed in detail.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kevin M. Beaver, Professor Directing Dissertation; Lisa Eckel, University Representative; Eric A. Stewart, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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