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University study says media consumption not a predictor of violent behavior

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Watching violent media as a child is not an accurate predictor of future violent behavior, with genetics and social environment figuring more prominently into personal development, according to a recently-published study from Texas A&M International University.

The study, lead by university chair and associate professor of psychology Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, suggests genetics is a high-contributing factor to criminal behavior. Data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health showed genetic variance factored into violent behavior for 58 percent of women and 20 percent of men, says the report.

"We basically find that genetics and some social issues combine to predict later adult arrests," Dr. Ferguson said. "Despite ongoing concerns about media influences, media exposure does not seem to function as a risk factor for adult criminality."

A child's environment among their family and peers as well as their socioeconomic status also factor into the possibility of future criminal behavior, according to the study. Dr. Ferguson said behavior stems from a combination of these factors and is not necessarily determined by a single element.

"Genetics alone don't seem to trigger criminal behavior, but in combination with harsh upbringing, you can see negative outcomes," he wrote. "In our sample, experiencing maternal warmth seemed to reduce the impact of genetics on adult criminality.

"People may object morally to some of the content that exists in the media, but the question is whether the media can predict criminal behavior. The answer seems to be no," he added.

The full study can be found on the Texas A&M International University website.