Exploring the genetic correlations of antisocial behaviour and life history traits

Jorim J. Tielbeek*, J. C. Barnes, Arne Popma, Tinca J.C. Polderman, James J. Lee, John R.B. Perry, Danielle Posthuma, Brian B. Boutwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Prior evolutionary theory provided reason to suspect that measures of development and reproduction would be correlated with antisocial behaviours in human and non-human species. Behavioural genetics has revealed that most quantitative traits are heritable, suggesting that these phenotypic correlations may share genetic aetiologies. We use genome-wide association study data to estimate the genetic correlations between various measures of reproductive development (N = 52 776-318 863) and antisocial behaviour (N = 31 968). Our genetic correlation analyses demonstrate that alleles associated with higher reproductive output (number of children ever born, r g = 0.50, P = 0.0065) were positively correlated with alleles associated with antisocial behaviour, whereas alleles associated with more delayed reproductive onset (age at first birth, r g = -0.64, P = 0.0008) were negatively associated with alleles linked to antisocial behaviour. Ultimately, these findings coalesce with evolutionary theories suggesting that increased antisocial behaviours may partly represent a faster life history approach, which may be significantly calibrated by genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-470
Number of pages4
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number6
Early online date5 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


FundersFunder number
Medical Research CouncilMC_UU_12015/2


    • antisocial behaviour
    • Genome-wide association study
    • linkage disequilibrium regression


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