This volume is an outgrowth of a memorial conference to honor the scientific contributions and accomplishments of Robert B. Cairns, internationally recognized for his pioneering efforts as an interdisciplinary developmental scientist. His theories and research in humans and animals provided a template and direction for future research in the developmental sciences and the psychobiology of aggression. This perspective integrated biology with psychological development, emphasizing the dynamic interactions among biological, psychological, and environmental influences on development and behavior. Cairns described a conception of human developmental processes, characterized by biobehavioral organization and involving reciprocal interactions of bidirectionality, plasticity, and gene–environment relationships. This conceptual framework provided an expanded array of multiple biological and behavioral levels as it applied to aggression, offering a refreshing departure from the very limited unidimensional belief in the deterministic role that unfolding biology exerts on behavior (see Figure 1.1; Cairns, 1996).
In earlier volumes, we presented various research approaches to the biology of aggression (Stoff & Cairns, 1996) and provided a comprehensive review of research on many aspects of antisocial behavior (Stoff, Breiling, & Maser, 1997). This volume updates those works, principally from a developmental psychobiological viewpoint of aggression, emphasizing modern neuroscience approaches that focus not only on “bottom-up” causality (e.g., molecular processes involving genes, cells, and synapses) but also on “top-down” causality (e.g., more molar processes mediated by experiences).