Child Antisocial Behavior Is more Environmental in Origin in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods: Evidence Across Residents’ Perceptions and Geographic Scales in Two Samples

S. Alexandra Burt, Amber L. Pearson, Sarah Carroll, Kelly L. Klump, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Prior research has suggested that disadvantaged neighborhood contexts alter the etiology of youth antisocial behavior (ASB). Unfortunately, these studies have relied exclusively on governmental data collected in administratively-defined neighborhoods (e.g., Census tracts or block groups, zip codes), a less than optimal approach for studying neighborhood effects. It would thus be important to extend prior findings of GxE using neighborhood sampling techniques, in which disadvantage is assessed via resident informant-reports of the neighborhood. The current study sought to do just this, examining two independent twin samples from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Neighborhood disadvantage was assessed via maternal and neighbor informant-reports, the latter of which were analyzed multiple ways (i.e., all neighbors within 1 km, nearest neighbor, and all neighbors within the County). Analyses revealed clear and consistent evidence of moderation by neighborhood disadvantage, regardless of informant or the specific operationalization of neighborhood. Shared environmental influences on ASB were observed to be several-fold larger in disadvantaged contexts, while genetic influences were proportionally more influential in advantaged neighborhoods. Such findings indicate that neighborhood disadvantage exerts rather profound effects on the origins of youth ASB. Efforts should now be made to identify the active ingredients of neighborhood disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-276
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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