Social Context, Genes, and Number of Sexual Partners Among Male Youth

Guang Guo, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Yuying Tong, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sociological models are generally less predictive of black male sexual behavior than whites. None of the prevailing sociological theories (social control, strain, and cultural norm) seems to be able to explain the empirical puzzle. In this article, we describe the interaction between the DAT1 gene and socioeconomic-cultural factors (SCF). By introducing the 40-bp variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) in the DNA samples from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we found gene by SCF interaction analysis has revealed a rich set of socioeconomic-cultural predictors of number of sex partners at both individual and contextual levels. These SCF findings are only visible in the gene-SCF interaction analysis in which the SCF effects are allowed to be moderated by the DAT1 genetic variants. Our empirical analysis has lent support for all three theoretical perspectives: social control, strain, and norm theories, but none of the three theories is dominant.

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Presented in Session 31: Genes, Sexual Behavior and Fertility