Author(s): Choy O, Raine A, Portnoy J, RudoHutt A, Gao Y
Objectives: Tests the hypothesis that the social adversity-antisocial behavior relationship is partly mediated by a biological mechanism, low heart rate.
Method: 18 indicators of social adversity and heart rate measured at rest and in anticipation of a speech stressor were assessed alongside nine measures of antisocial behavior including delinquency (Youth Self-Report [YSR] and Child Behavior Checklist [CBCL]), conduct disorder (Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder Questionnaire), and child psychopathy (Antisocial Process Screening Device [APSD]) in a community sample of 388 children aged 11 to 12 years. PROCESS was used to test mediation models.
Results: Low heart rate was a partial mediator of the adversity-antisocial behavior relationship, explaining 20.35 percent and 15.40 percent of the effect of social adversity on delinquency and overall antisocial behavior, respectively.
Conclusions: Findings are, to the authors’ knowledge, one of the first to establish any biological risk factor as a mediator of the social adversity-antisocial behavior relationship and suggest that social processes alter autonomic functioning in a way to predispose to antisocial behavior. While not definitive, results give rise to a social neurocriminology theory that argues that the social environment influences biological risk factors in a way to predispose to antisocial and criminal behavior.Journal of Forensic Psychology