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Surprising Science

Do Genes Cause Evil Behavior?

Scientists would like to know the root causes of evil behavior: Is it a product of our genes or environment? The answer appears to involve a combination of the two.

Daniel Lametti, a neuroscientist at McGill University, was inspired to write on the subject of genetics and evil after his morning newspaper was stolen. “A 2002 study found that a particular variation of a gene predicted antisocial behavior in men who were mistreated as children. The gene controls whether we produce an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), which at low levels has been linked to aggression in mice. The researchers found that boys who were neglected and who possessed a variation of the gene that produced low levels of MAOA were more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder…”


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