The Media and Behavioral Genetics: Alternatives Coexisting with Addiction Genetics

Molly J. Dingel, Jenny Ostergren, Jennifer B. McCormick, Rachel Hammer, Barbara A. Koenig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To understand public discourse in the United States on genetic causation of behavioral disorders, we analyzed media representations of genetic research on addiction published between 1990 and 2010. We conclude first that the media simplistically represent biological bases of addiction and willpower as being mutually exclusive: behaviors are either genetically determined, or they are a choice. Second, most articles provide only cursory or no treatment of the environmental contribution. A media focus on genetics directs attention away from environmental factors. Rhetorically, media neglect the complexity underlying the etiology the addiction and direct focus back toward individual causation and responsibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-486
Number of pages28
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 12 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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