The Genetics of Antisocial Human Behavior

Research Personnel:
Colleen Berryessa, CIRGE Program Manager
Dr. Megan Allyse, CIRGE Post-Doctoral Fellow (former)

Research Overview:
Ongoing genetic research seeks to identify the gene patterns that impact aspects of human personality. This includes negative or antisocial behavior, including a tendency towards violence, anti-social personality disorder and psychopathy. However, while most genetic research is aimed at the eventual relief of medical suffering, it is unclear how personality genetics will be applied outside the realm of research, especially concerning antisocial behavior in platforms such as the criminal justice and legal systems. Will increasingly sophisticated understandings of antisocial personality phenotypes be used to evaluate the current or potential behavior of individuals or criminals? Under what circumstances? How will genetic understandings of human action influence our understanding of the way we interact socially, and what impact might this have on how we think about personality and criminality? This research area aims to explore some of these questions.


Colleen M. Berryessa. (2015). Potential Implications of Research on Genetic or Heritable Contributions to Pedophilia for the Objectives of Criminal Law. Recent Advances in DNA & Gene Sequences Vol.9, No.1.

Colleen M. Berryessa, Nicole Martinez-Martin, and Megan Allyse. (2013). Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Surrounding Research on Genetic Contributions to Antisocial Behavior. Aggression and Violent Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2013.07.011.

Megan Allyse. Research on the Genetics of Antisocial Behavior and Violence: Implications for Social Control and Criminal Justice, in ELSI Congress. 2011: Chapel Hill, NC.