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Perceived discrimination, serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region status, and the development of conduct problems

  • Gene H. Brody (a1) (a2), Steven R. H. Beach (a1), Yi-Fu Chen (a1), Ezemenari Obasi (a1), Robert A. Philibert (a3), Steven M. Kogan (a1) and Ronald L. Simons (a1)...


This study examined the prospective relations of adolescents' perceptions of discrimination and their genetic status with increases in conduct problems. Participants were 461 African American youths residing in rural Georgia (Wave 1 mean age = 15.5 years) who provided three waves of data and a saliva sample from which a polymorphism in the SCL6A4 (serotonin transporter [5-HTT]) gene polymorphism known as the 5-HTT linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) was genotyped. Data analyses using growth curve modeling indicated that perceived discrimination was significantly related to the slope of conduct problems. As hypothesized, interactions between perceived discrimination and genetic status emerged for male but not female youths. Compared with those carrying two copies of the long allele variant of 5-HTTLPR, male youths carrying one or two copies of its short allele variant evinced higher rates of conduct problems over time when they perceived high levels of racial discrimination. These findings are consistent with resilience and differential susceptibility propositions stating that genes can both foster sensitivity to adverse events and confer protection from those events.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Gene H. Brody, Center for Family Research, University of Georgia, 1095 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30605-4527; E-mail:


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