Looking for reward in all the wrong places

dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms indirectly affect aggression through sensation-seeking

David S. Chester, C. Nathan DeWall, Karen Derefinko, Steven Estus, Donald R. Lynam, Jessica R. Peters, Yang Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Individuals with genotypes that code for reduced dopaminergic brain activity often exhibit a predisposition toward aggression. However, it remains largely unknown how dopaminergic genotypes may increase aggression. Lower-functioning dopamine systems motivate individuals to seek reward from external sources such as illicit drugs and other risky experiences. Based on emerging evidence that aggression is a rewarding experience, we predicted that the effect of lower-functioning dopaminergic functioning on aggression would be mediated by tendencies to seek the environment for rewards. Caucasian female and male undergraduates (N = 277) were genotyped for five polymorphisms of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) gene; they reported their previous history of aggression and their dispositional reward-seeking. Lower-functioning DRD2 profiles were associated with greater sensation-seeking, which then predicted greater aggression. Our findings suggest that lower-functioning dopaminergic activity puts individuals at risk for violence because it motivates them to experience aggression’s hedonically rewarding qualities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-494
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2 2016

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Dopamine Receptors
aggression
Aggression
Reward
reward
polymorphism
gene
Genes
genotype
Genotype
experience
Dopamine D2 Receptors
Street Drugs
Caucasian
violence
Violence
brain
Dopamine
drug
Brain

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Looking for reward in all the wrong places : dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms indirectly affect aggression through sensation-seeking. / Chester, David S.; DeWall, C. Nathan; Derefinko, Karen; Estus, Steven; Lynam, Donald R.; Peters, Jessica R.; Jiang, Yang.

In: Social Neuroscience, Vol. 11, No. 5, 02.09.2016, p. 487-494.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chester, David S. ; DeWall, C. Nathan ; Derefinko, Karen ; Estus, Steven ; Lynam, Donald R. ; Peters, Jessica R. ; Jiang, Yang. / Looking for reward in all the wrong places : dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms indirectly affect aggression through sensation-seeking. In: Social Neuroscience. 2016 ; Vol. 11, No. 5. pp. 487-494.
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