Is antisocial personality disorder genetic? Get the answers here and learn more about treatment for antisocial personality disorder.

While the majority of research suggests that Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is caused by social or environmental factors, there isn’t a definitive answer to whether ASPD is genetic. In general, researchers conclude that the studies examining the relationships between risk factors and personality disorders are in their infancy and a significant amount of research is needed to determine the definitive causes of personality disorders.

Personality disorders are typically associated with genetic and environmental factors like experiences of distress and trauma during childhood. According to a study conducted by Catherine Tuvblad and Kevin M. Beaver, several candidate genes were identified as risk factors for ASPD. A candidate gene is a gene or variation on a gene that is thought to be the cause of a disease or disorder. These genes were indicators of aggressive and non-aggressive behaviors like delinquency and rule-breaking.

Genetics Versus Environmental Risk Factors For ASPD

Heritability estimates for ASPD suggest as much as half the likelihood that someone will have ASPD can be explained by genetic differences. However, it must be recognized that heritability estimates provide information about someone’s behavior in a group, which means that a heritability estimate cannot predict the prevalence of ASPD in an individual.

While genetics can be responsible for passing on traits like impulsivity, several other risk factors contribute to ASPD. Biological risk factors are particularly influential in the development of ASPD. Someone’s social and home environments can also be responsible for the development of ASPD. If parents engage in substance use or criminal activity, their children are more likely to have behavioral problems. Parental supervision was also an influencing factor in the development of antisocial personality disorder. Childhood traumas like child abuse and neglect were also linked with ASPD. People living with ASPD are more likely to have been abused as a child than people without antisocial personality disorder.

Studies revealed that treatment for antisocial personality disorder helps people living with ASPD learn coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms. Treatment for ASPD usually involves cognitive or talk therapy and depending on whether the patient has co-occurring disorders like other mental health conditions or an addiction, additional therapy and medication treatment may be added to their treatment plan.

If you or someone you know struggles with substance abuse and a co-occurring disorder like antisocial personality disorder, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals can design an individualized treatment plan to suit your specific disorders. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which treatment program could work for you.


Tuvblad, Catherine and Beaver, Kevin. “Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior.” Journal of Criminal Justice, October 2013. Accessed on February 20, 2019.

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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.