Genetic factors in aggression

Genetic Factors in Aggression - PET-1

(AO1) PET-1:     

  • Important in the development of a certain kind of brain cell in the feotus.
  • Produces a chemical called serotonin which is known to control mood.
  • Lack of PET-1 shows anxiety and aggressive-like behaviour in adults.
  • Deneris (2003) - genetically modified mice to lack PET-1 gene, did not produce enough serotonin cells.The normally placid creatures became anxious + aggressive, especially to other mice entering their territory. Would attack more frequently ∴ showing increased aggression.


  • Difficulty in indentifying what the role of serotonin in regulating aggressive behaviour. MAOA suggests excess serotonin levels lead to increased aggression whereas PET-1 suggests a problem with the cells that produce serotonin. No aggreement on whether high or low levels are the main influence on aggression. CONTRADICTORY! A scientific account should not have this.
  • Practical Application: don't attempt rehab as can't change gene. Judicial system change, noninsaneautomitism, removes responsibility from parent and criminal. BBC doc.
  • Twin studies - McGue (1992): correlation of +0.43 for MZ twins, +0.3 for DZ twins and aggression scales. Suggests genes do play a part in aggressive tendancies as nurture factor has been accounted for as they are raised in same environment. NATURE AND NURTURE is important as MZ twins could have been treated more similarily than DZ cause they look the same ∴ aggression same so both can influence.
  • IDA: SLT is ignored! Other factors like aggression is learnt is being ignored. This is problematic as SLT and environment may play a part in aggression that genetic explanations cannot account for.
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