Individual Differences and Levels of Antisocial Behavior

  • Michael Rutter
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 292)


In considering the interplay between biological and psychosocial processes in the causation of antisocial behavior, the usual approach has been to focus on the causal mechanisms involved in the determination of individual differences. It is important to recognize, however, that that is by no means the only causal question of importance. Policy makers tend to be more concerned with the prevention of the disorders causing social disability than with whether the disorder is shown by this individual or that one. Scientists, too, have needed to study the causal factors involved in either changes in level over time or differences between groups such as those based on gender, age, or country of residence or of origin (Rutter & Smith, 1995). Criminologists sometimes assume that differences in level apply only to aggregated data but, of course, that is not so. Thus, the reduction in level of crime during early adult life applies to individuals as well as to groups. But the differences among individuals in liability to antisocial behaviour provides quite different information. The individual differences concern population variance whereas levels concern overall rates or frequencies.


Down Syndrome Antisocial Behavior Crime Rate Conduct Disorder Developmental Psychopathology 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Rutter
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychiatryMRC Child Psychiatry Unit and Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research CentreLondonUK

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