The Effect of Gang Membership on Victimization: A Behavioral Genetic Explanation

J. C. Barnes, Brian B. Boutwell, Kathleen Talbot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The current study represents the first attempt to examine how genetic and environmental factors work in concert to influence gang membership, victimization, and the effect of gang membership on victimization experiences. Using data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the present study employs behavioral genetic modeling (i.e., the ACE model and the DeFries-Fulker model) to examine these associations. The findings indicate that gang affiliation is influenced significantly by both genetic factors and environmental factors that are uniquely experienced by the individual. Controlling for heritable influences, gang membership increased the risk of victimization over time. The latter finding suggests that gang membership operates as a nonshared environmental influence on victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-244
Number of pages18
JournalYouth Violence and Juvenile Justice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • behavior genetics
  • gangs
  • nonshared environment
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law


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