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The interaction between the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) variable number tandem repeat polymorphism and perceived peer drinking norms in adolescent alcohol use and misuse

  • Aesoon Park (a1), Jueun Kim (a1), Michelle J. Zaso (a1), Stephen J. Glatt (a2), Kenneth J. Sher (a3), Lori A. J. Scott-Sheldon (a4) (a5), Tanya L. Eckert (a1), Peter A. Vanable (a1), Kate B. Carey (a5), Craig K. Ewart (a1) and Michael P. Carey (a4) (a5)...


Peer drinking norms are arguably one of the strongest correlates of adolescent drinking. Prospective studies indicate that adolescents tend to select peers based on drinking (peer selection) and their peers' drinking is associated with changes in adolescent drinking over time (peer socialization). The present study investigated whether the peer selection and socialization processes in adolescent drinking differed as a function of the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) variable number tandem repeat genotype in two independent prospective data sets. The first sample was 174 high school students drawn from a two-wave 6-month prospective study. The second sample was 237 college students drawn from a three-wave annual prospective study. Multigroup cross-lagged panel analyses of the high school student sample indicated stronger socialization via peer drinking norms among carriers, whereas analyses of the college student sample indicated stronger drinking-based peer selection in the junior year among carriers, compared to noncarriers. Although replication and meta-analytic synthesis are needed, these findings suggest that in part genetically determined peer selection (carriers of the DRD4 seven-repeat allele tend to associate with peers who have more favorable attitudes toward drinking and greater alcohol use) and peer socialization (carriers' subsequent drinking behaviors are more strongly associated with their peer drinking norms) may differ across adolescent developmental stages.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Aesoon Park, Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244; E-mail:


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