Assortative mating for antisocial behavior: developmental and methodological implications.
R F Krueger et al.; May 1998
Do people mate assortatively for antisocial behavior? If so, what are the implications for the development and persistence of antisocial behavior? We investigated assortative mating for antisocial behavior and its correlates in a sample of 360 couples from Dunedin, New Zealand. We found substantial assortative mating for self-reports of antisocial behavior per se and for self-reports of couple members' tendencies to associate with antisocial peers (0.54 on average). Perceptions about the likelihood of social sanctions for antisocial behavior (e.g., being caught by the authorities or losing the respect of one's family) showed moderate assortative mating (0.32 on average). However, assortative mating for personality traits related to antisocial behavior was low (0.15 on average). These findings suggest that, whereas assortative mating for many individual-difference variables (such as personality traits) is low, assortative mating for actual antisocial behaviors is substantial. We conclude that future family studies of antisocial behavior should endeavor to measure and understand the influence of assortative mating. In addition, we outline a testable behavior-genetic model for the development of antisocial behavior, in which genes and environments promoting or discouraging antisocial behavior become concentrated within families (due to assortative mating), giving rise to widely varying individual developmental trajectories that are, nevertheless, similar within families.