The Warrior Gene

Recently Medscape cited a recent study about the MAOA gene and its being linked to a greater risk for antisocial behavior for young men who “who were exposed to violence or maltreatment in childhood….”

I bring this up in my blog because as many of you know, I have often commented negatively on studies that purport to show that engagement with violent media, including violent video games, can lead to violent behavior in the real world. My objections have been based on Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory and the person as agent therein.

The Medscape piece can be accessed at:

Quoting from the piece:

“Investigators found higher levels of conduct disorder in adolescence and of antisocial behavior in adulthood, including a higher probability of arrest and partner violence, among those who had been exposed to violence in childhood, such as parental maltreatment and sexual and physical abuse.

“Importantly, those with the MAOA polymorphism were more likely to engage in antisocial behaviors compared with those who had been maltreated as children but who did not carry the polymorphism.”

I believe this accounts in part for why some perpetrators of mass killings and the like act out their behaviors and others do not.

Also, I want to point out that researchers Reeves and Nass, in their landmark studies that showed how adults respond to mediated images and presentations as if they were real events taking place in real time, leads to my hypothesizing that such youthful exposure need not have been a real event for the person. It could as well have been viewing someone else being treated in this way AND even viewing violent media. But to have that effect, the “victim” would be most impacted if they had low self-efficacy AND the MAOA gene.

What do you think?

About mediainmind

Education: BFA in Painting & Sculpture from California College of the Arts (Oakland); Executive MBA in Executive Management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University (Claremont); MA and PhD in Media Psychology from the Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara). Experience: Over 40 years experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations on the client and agency sides of the business; for-profit and nonprofit, as well as government. Special Expertise: The interface between human behavior and the media. It's all about "media in mind." View all posts by mediainmind

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