Genetic Explanation Of Aggression Essay

865 words - 4 pages

A gene is a molecular unit of hereditary information. Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism’s cells, thereby, passing on genetic traits to offspring. The role of genes in some biological traits is understood, and it is argued that some behaviour such as aggression are also passed on in the same way.

One gene said to be associated with aggression is Monoamine Oxidase. This is located on the X chromosome, which triggers the manufacture of the enzyme monoamine oxidase. Its function is to mop up excessive levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, rending them inactive. A lack of this enzyme, results in excessive levels of ...view middle of the document...

This suggests that the lack of the MAOA does increase aggression, and therefore, strengthens the idea that genetics can explain aggression.

Finally, the genetic explanation is further strengthened by the fact that it has practical applications. If we can begin to understand the cause of aggression and predict possible children who may have high levels of aggression due to genetics then we can begin to identify those who are at risk and provide them with treatments. This, therefore, strengthens our confidence in the genetic explanation.

Our understanding of the genetic explanation, however, is weakened by the fact that the concordance rates in the twin studies are not 100%. If genetics was the whole story, then we would expect the rates of be 100% for MZ’s, however, as they are not, it suggests that environment must also play a part in aggression. Furthermore, the difference between the concordance rates was not that great, therefore, suggesting once more that environment must also be involved. This, therefore, weakens the genetic explanation.

A further weakness arises from the use of the twin studies and, therefore, weakens the supporting research for the genetic explanation. The use of MZ’s twins suffers from problems regarding the fact that as MZ’s are identical, they tend to be treated the same, and therefore are not treated as individuals. This means that they do not have their own identity and share the same environment as well as genes. This suggests that we cannot draw a clear conclusion about the degree of influence that genetics plays, this disabling us from establishing cause and effect. It suggests that environment...

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