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Dopamine receptor D4 gene moderates the effect of positive and negative peer experiences on later delinquency: The Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey study

  • Tina Kretschmer (a1) (a2), Jan Kornelis Dijkstra (a1), Johan Ormel (a3), Frank C. Verhulst (a4) and René Veenstra (a1)...

Abstract

The quality of adolescents' relationships with peers can have a lasting impact on later psychosocial adjustment, mental health, and behavior. However, the effect of peer relations on later problem behavior is not uniformly strong, and genetic factors might influence this association. This study used four-wave longitudinal (11–19 years) data (n = 1,151) from the Tracking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey, a Dutch cohort study into adolescent development to test whether the dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism moderates the impact of negative (i.e., victimization) and positive peer experiences (i.e., social well-being) on later delinquency. Contrary to our expectations, results showed that carriers of the dopamine receptor D4 gene 4-repeat homozygous variant instead of those carrying the 7-repeat allele were more susceptible to the effects of both peer victimization and social well-being on delinquency later in adolescence. Findings of our study are discussed in light of other studies into genetic moderation of peer effects on adolescent development and the possibility that developmental specifics in adolescence, such as maturation processes in brain structure and functioning, may affect the interplay of environmental and genetic factors in this period in life.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Tina Kretschmer, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Interuniversity Centre of Social Science Theory and Methodology, University of Groningen, Grote Rozenstraat 31, 9712 TG Groningen, The Netherlands; E-mail: t.kretschmer@rug.nl.

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