MAOA and Aggression: A Gene-Environment Interaction in Two Populations

Rose McDermott, Chris Dawes, Elizabeth Prom-Wormley, Lindon Eaves, Peter K. Hatemi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Political scientists tend to focus on environmental triggers as the primary precipitating cause for political violence. However, little has been done to explain why certain individuals faced with certain pressures resort to violence, while others confronting the same situation seek out diplomatic and peaceful resolutions to conflict. Here, using two independent samples, we explore the interaction between genetic disposition and violent early life events and their influence on engaging in physical violence. We find that individuals with the low-activity form of monoamine oxidase-A, who are exposed to violence in youth have a greater likelihood of engaging in physical aggression later in adulthood. Our findings hold important implications for the value of environmental intervention in communities besieged by political violence in order to reduce the likelihood of the intergenerational transfer of its propensity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1043-1064
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Dec 2013


    • MAOA
    • gene-environment interaction
    • physical aggression
    • political violence
    • traumatic early life events

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business, Management and Accounting
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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