Date of Conferral





Public Health


Aimee Ferraro


A genetic polymorphism found in the upstream region of the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene upstream variable number tandem repeat (u VNTR) has been shown to have an influence on aggression with mixed results. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the association between the u VNTR genetic polymorphism of the MAOA gene and aggression in an adolescent population 13–18 years of age. The conceptual framework was based on the biosocial model of antisocial behavior that indicates genes can influence aggressive behaviors with or without environmental influences. Data (N = 2506) from the National Longitudinal Adolescents and Adult Study (Add Health) 2008-2012 were used to calculate descriptive (mean, median, and standard deviation) statistics. Inferential statistics were calculated using independent variables of u VNTR genetic polymorphism of the MAOA gene, gender, and ethnicity; the potential confounder of abuse; and the dependent variable of aggression. Results showed that the presence of low variants of the MAOA gene and being male were associated with higher aggression scores. Abuse was not an impactful confounder. The social change implications from these findings include that they may enhance understanding of the role genetics plays in aggression and may increase knowledge of the importance of including genetic research in public health interventions.