Heart Rate and Psychosocial Correlates of Antisocial Behavior in High-Risk Adolescents

  • Friedrich Lösel
  • Doris Bender
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 292)


Children and adolescents with antisocial behavior show a relatively low resting heart rate (Raine, 1993). This is explained through theories predicting autonomic under-arousal, passive emotional withdrawal, increased vagal tone, and reduced fear of punishment in antisocial individuals (Quay, 1993; Raine, 1993). Consistencies between cardiovascular, electrodermal, and cortical response systems (Raine, Venables, & Williams, 1990) and symmetrical findings for inhibited children (Kagan, 1989) support such psychophysiologic concepts. Although measurement problems, developmental changes, and alternative theoretical explanations must be taken into account, results on the relationship between heart rate (HR) and antisocial behavior (ASB) are rather consistent and substantial in effect size (Raine, 1993). Lower HR in childhood and adolescence is even a long-term predictor of crime and violence (Farrington, 1987, this volume; Raine et al., 1990, Wadsworth, 1976). In contrast, high autonomic arousal has a protective effect against adult criminality (Raine et al., 1995).


Antisocial Behavior High Heart Rate Regular Alcohol Consumption Adult Criminality Heart Rate Group 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Friedrich Lösel
    • 1
  • Doris Bender
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany

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