Evidence of negligible parenting influences on self-control, delinquent peers, and delinquency in a sample of twins

John Wright, Kevin Beaver, Matt Delisi, Michael Vaughn

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114 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioral genetic findings continue to call into question the dominant role of parental influence. Utilizing a sample of twins from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we assess the association between parenting behaviors and child self-control, delinquent peer formation, and delinquency. Our results indicate that genetic influences and non-shared environmental influences account for variation in these outcomes. We discuss these findings as they relate to theorizing about the role and function of parenting in the etiology of unique traits and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-569
Number of pages26
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sep

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
John Paul Wright, PhD, is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the Division of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. His research examines the nexus between biological, genetic, and social variables associated with the development of criminal behavior. He has published widely across a range of disciplines, including criminology, behavioral genetics, and medicine. Along with Steve Tibbetts and Leah Daigle, he recently published a book on the origins and development of criminality entitled Criminals In the Making: Criminality Across the Life-Course (SAGE, 2008). Kevin M. Beaver, PhD, earned his PhD from the University of Cincinnati in 2006 and was awarded the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Institute of Justice. He is currently Assistant Professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. His research examines the ways in which the environment intersects with biological and genetic factors to produce delinquent and criminal behaviors. He has published more than 40 articles and book chapters, and he is also coeditor (with Anthony Walsh) of Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research (Routledge, 2008). Matt DeLisi, PhD, is Coordinator of Criminal Justice Studies at Iowa State University. Professor DeLisi’s has forthcoming articles in the American Journal of Public Health, Criminology, Crime & Delinquency, Journal of Forensic Sciences, Journal of Criminal Justice, The Journal of Genetic Psychology, and others. Michael G. Vaughn, PhD, received his doctoral degree from Washington University in St Louis in 2005 and is currently Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and Holds appointments in Public Policy and the Department of Community Health, Division of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University School of Public Health. He has over 50 publications and his interdisciplinary research has appeared in such journals as the Addictive Behaviors, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Psychiatry, Behavioral and Brain Functions, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Criminology, Journal of Criminal Justice, Social Service Review, and Social Work Research. In addition to several projects examining psychopathy, adolescent health, adolescent substance abuse, self-regulation, and violence, he is developing and testing a general biosocial public health model for research and intervention applications. The authors compose the Biosocial Criminology Research Group, and are dedicated to the study of the union between biological and social variables in the creation of antisocial and criminal behavior. Correspondence to: John Paul Wright, University of Cincinnati, Division of Criminal Justice, Cincinnati, OH, 45221-0389 USA. E-mail: john.wright@uc.edu

Funding Information:
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524, USA (addhealth@unc.edu).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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