The antisocial family tree: family histories of behavior problems in antisocial personality in the United States

Michael G. Vaughn, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Matt DeLisi, Zhengmin Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multiple avenues of research (e.g., criminal careers, intergenerational family transmission, and epidemiological studies) have indicated a concentration of antisocial traits and behaviors that cluster among families and within individuals in a population. The current study draws on each of these perspectives in exploring the intergenerational contours of antisocial personality disorder across multiple generations of a large-scale epidemiological sample. Methods: The analytic sample of persons meeting criteria for antisocial personality disorder (N = 1,226) was derived from waves I and II of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Path analytic, latent class, and multinomial models were executed to describe and elucidate family histories among persons diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Results: Three classes of an antisocial family tree were found: minimal family history of problem behaviors (70.3 % of sample) who were characterized by higher socioeconomic functioning, parental and progeny behavior problems (9.4 % of sample) who were characterized by criminal behaviors, psychopathology, and substance use disorders, and multigenerational history of problem behaviors (20.3 % of sample) who were characterized by alcoholism, psychopathology, and versatile criminal offending. Conclusions: These findings add a typology to intergenerational studies of antisocial behavior that can assist in identifying etiological and treatment factors among those for whom crime runs in the family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-831
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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