Is there a Warrior Gene that causes Gang Bangin’


Gang-Banging May Be Genetic

By Associated Press June 17, 2009 3:45 pm



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Bad neighborhoods and lack of opportunity are usually blamed for boys joining violent street gangs. But a new study finds that the urge to join gangs might lie, at least in part, in their genes.

Boys who have a variant of the gene monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) — otherwise known as the “warrior gene” — are not only more likely to be in gangs than boys without the variant, but they tend to be among the most violent members.

Boys with the MAOA variant are also more likely to get into fights and use weapons, according to the study.

Though the drive to join gangs is typically blamed on socioeconomic and environmental factors, from poverty to unstable families to boys’ quest for a sense of belonging, the study found that joining gangs also has a genetic underpinning.

“While gangs typically have been regarded as a sociological phenomenon, our investigation shows that variants of a specific MAOA gene, known as a ‘low-activity 3-repeat allele,’ play a significant role,” the study’s lead author, Kevin M. Beaver, a biosocial criminologist at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said in a university news release.

“Previous research has linked low-activity MAOA variants to a wide range of antisocial, even violent, behavior, but our study confirms that these variants can predict gang membership,” Beaver said. “Moreover, we found that variants of this gene could distinguish gang members who were markedly more likely to behave violently and use weapons from members who were less likely to do either.”

The study is available in the online edition of Comprehensive Psychiatry.

For their research, Beaver and his colleagues analyzed DNA and lifestyle data from more than 2,500 teens who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

The MAOA gene is believed to affect levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that are related to mood and behavior, according to the study. Previous research found that the “warrior gene” is more prevalent in cultures that are typified by warfare and aggression.

Though the study included both boys and girls, only boys with the MAOA gene variant showed an increased propensity for violence. The gene variant had little impact on the girls, possibly because the MAOA gene is located on the X-chromosome, the researchers said.

“As a result, males, who have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome, possess only one copy of this gene, while females, who have two X-chromosomes, carry two,” Beaver said. “Thus, if a male has an allele (variant) for the MAOA gene that is linked to violence, there isn’t another copy to counteract it. Females, in contrast, have two copies, so even if they have one risk allele, they have another that could compensate for it.”

He added, “That’s why most MAOA research has focused on males and probably why the MAOA effect has, for the most part, only been detected in males.”


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  1. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Couldn’t read all of this article. Always sounds racist. Take those same kids and surround them around books and an environment conducive to education and let them see everyone olse striving for education and watch how they react. This is some old racist research. I don’t buy it.

  2. flavorblade says:

    I wonder if this study was funded by the pharmacutical companies. System dope is a big industry. Every kid entering the system gets a diagnosis and a fix.

  3. ken amen says:

    this reminds me of that tom cruise movie…how the govertment was able to predict who would have a propensity for crime. this isn’t solely about racism, but identify those that are sent amongst us through spiritual means to help elivate and raise consciousness as we are now in the twelth house of consciousness. a liberator can be sent to anyone the creator wants them too!!!!! consciousness is predicated on an open mind not closed. i am a black man who is open to anyone who is down for geting the illumiunati off our backs. man, you people better re-think malcolm x all over again. if you think the nation of islam planneed and carry out the hit…no wonder i’m up responding!!!

  4. native son says:

    There is a point to this article. I come from people of an indigenous warrior culture and some of motivations that drives youth to gangs are some of the same motivating factors of a warrior society. The need of family and the protection of that family are no different that a warrior belonging to a tribe and protecting that tribe. In many native american cultures, warriors not only performed a miltary function but also were a policing force as well and kept their people in line when they acted outside the bounds of their value system. They were one of the major sources of reinforcing their people’s core values and they demonstrated these values by their actions. However, there are some major distinguishing factors that seperate a warrior from a thug. In the indigenous culture that i come from, one of the most important attribute of a warrior was humilty. A warrior had to be above selfishness, insecurity and greed or else he crossed the line from a protector to a careless detroyer of life. Life is sacred, (even the taking of a life of an animal or plant required asking permission, giving thanks and asking for forgiveness for taking a life) and so to take a life of a human being was no easy task even for protection and required a purification of the soul and body once done.

    When youth have that inborn need for family and that is not met, naturally they will form their own and be willing to protect that family. If there value system of the youth is corrupted then what could”ve been a healthy family is now a destructive force that destroys life. When this happens, honor will bestowed upon all the worst things.

    There is good and bad within all things, it depends upon what’s inside each person and the path they choose. A person can take that need to protect and use it to secure his family and community and ensure a prosperous environment. The community in turn, must give that person a reason to protect and a reason to not only give of their life for it but more so, to “live” for that community. If that energy is not channled properly, then it will turn to what it has now become, gangs, comprised of individuals who have been hurt and feel insecure, who lust for greed and selfishness leads them to take that energy and use it in destructive ways. A warrior is not a thug and likewise, a thug is not a warrior. The community plays a major role in determining which one will win the day.

    Soldiers are made, Warriors are born.


  5. The majority of “scientific” studies are financially supported by special interest groups. AP should publish this information along with the “news”.

  6. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    A little “warrior gene” input – in Philadelphia, PA they know exactly how many prison cells to build based on the number of children that can not read by the third grade. Now, is that a “gene” or just a statistic? Keep the parents ignorant; and its not genetic, its statistic that the children will be like-wise.