The role of emotional intelligence and a functional polymorphism in the MAO-A gene on aggression in humans
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Article 1: Aggression is a complex trait, with both genetic and environmental factors important in its aetiology. It is a universal problem, for which better solutions are needed. This study will focus mainly on the influence of genetic and environmental factors on two subtypes of aggression, namely reactive- and proactive aggression. The moderate heritability values of these subtypes make them ideal candidates for such a study. The genetic components of aggression include the upper-limit heritability estimates for the subtypes by means of correlations between first-degree relatives. Thereafter the role of variants of one specific gene, the MAO-A gene will be examined. The role of emotional intelligence as a specific environmental factor influencing aggression is discussed. Very few studies have been done on the possible influence of emotional intelligence on aggression. Traumatic event exposure will also be studied as a possible secondary influencing factor. Since self-report measures are used, the effect of social desirability bias will be determined. In this chapter each of the variables under study is briefly described, followed by the most salient motivations why these specific variables were seen as the most suitable for this investigation. In addition, the specific aims of the dissertation are briefly outlined. Article 2: Aggression is a highly prevalent and costly problem in societies throughout the world. Treatment options are available, but needs to be improved or adjusted to really be able to curb the problem of aggression. The paper aims to highlight key points in the aggression literature in order to improve researchers’ understanding of the construct of aggression and possible causes underlying aggression, as well as factors that may exacerbate aggression. Therefore, this paper reviews the literature on aggression in humans, and covers aspects relating to the defini-tion of aggression, the various subtypes of aggression, evidence for variable en-vironmental and heritable influences on aggression, as well as looking at specific genes and hormones influencing aggression. Specifically, the influence on ag-gression of the monoamine oxidase A enzyme, the gene that encodes it (MAO-A), and the neurotransmitters that it metabolizes (serotonin and norepinephrine) are looked at. In addition, emotional intelligence as a possible influencing factor on the occurrence of aggression is also covered. This is done to provide a start-ing point for research aiming to develop treatments for aggression, whether they are psychotherapeutic programmes aimed at improving emotional intelligence or psychopharmaceutic drugs aimed at the genetic and hormonal mechanisms un-derlying aggression.