Differential Susceptibility: The Genetic Moderation of Peer Pressure on Alcohol Use

Amanda M. Griffin, H. Harrington Cleveland, Gabriel L. Schlomer, David J. Vandenbergh, Mark E. Feinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although peer pressure can influence adolescents’ alcohol use, individual susceptibility to these pressures varies across individuals. The dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) is a potential candidate gene that may influence adolescents’ susceptibility to their peer environment due to the role dopamine plays in reward sensation during social interaction. We hypothesized that DRD4 genotype status would moderate the impact of 7th-grade antisocial peer pressure on 12th-grade lifetime alcohol use (n = 414; 58.7 % female; 92.8 % White). The results revealed significant main effects for antisocial peer pressure, but no main effects for DRD4 genotype on lifetime alcohol use. Adolescent DRD4 genotype moderated the association between peer pressure and lifetime alcohol use. For individuals who carried at least one copy of the DRD4 7-repeat allele (7+), antisocial peer pressure was associated with increased lifetime alcohol use. These findings indicate that genetic sensitivity to peer pressure confers increased alcohol use in late adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1853
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 13 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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