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Antisocial behavior: what it is, risk factors and associated disorders

Antisocial behavior: what it is, risk factors and associated disorders

February 12, 2024

The behaviors that we carry out individually as a member of a society, can serve both to preserve and maintain coexistence and to disturb it, or alter the climate and harmony of it. That is, there are prosocial behaviors and, also, antisocial behaviors .

Throughout this article we will review the conception and characteristics of antisocial behaviors, as well as the risk factors and diagnoses associated with it.

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What is antisocial behavior?

By antisocial behavior we understand the set of behaviors, practices or actions that have as objective the disturbance of social order or aggression to this . In the same way, all those discourses that foment this type of acts, are also considered as part of antisocial behaviors.


Traditionally, these acts and behaviors have been categorized as transgressions, abuses, infractions or crimes judged and sanctioned both by the law, and by society in general.

People with antisocial behavior can establish the focus of their actions in spaces or property of others, through acts of vandalism, robbery or robbery, as well as with the intention of harming other people through assaults, attacks and offenses, as well as abuse and harassment.

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What are its main characteristics?

The main problem that exists before the need to establish what can be considered antisocial behavior and what is not, since the definition of antisocial behavior as all that behavior or behavior that violates social norms or the rights of people encompasses too large a quantity and variety of acts.


For example, it is not the same to judge as an antisocial behavior a robbery, that one painted on a wall, that a demonstration against some law or unfair situation. However, all of them are oriented to alter the established order.

The fact that there is so much flexibility in the interpretation of certain behaviors as antisocial behaviors is a problem in today's society. In addition, there is a perception that in recent years the number of antisocial behaviors has increased considerably, perhaps as a response to changes and social and economic phenomena experienced.

Also, you have to take into account in each culture or society can determine a set of guidelines or standards established that approximate what behaviors are considered as an assault or assault on society and which are not.

However, there are a number of factors that can be useful when evaluating and distinguishing a performance as antisocial:


  • Evaluation of the severity of the acts.
  • Evaluation of the action in terms of distancing from the socially established guidelines.
  • Sociocultural context in which it is carried out .

Taking these factors into account, we can determine that, at the moment, there are no objective and clear criteria that serve as a guide to evaluate and qualify antisocial behavior, as well as to determine in an exact manner which acts should be separated from this label.

In spite of this, we can establish that antisocial behaviors are those acts that violate the social rules or norms that regulate coexistence, as long as these present a degree of severity superior to all those conducts that are carried out on the day day of the people.

What causes them or what risk factors are there?

Another field that investigates some disciplines such as sociology, psychology, criminology or even legislation, are both the causes and the risk factors that can predispose the population in general to carry out any type of antisocial behavior.

Although the exact causes by which a person can develop antisocial behavior are unknown, there are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing antisocial behavior.

These factors are divided into individual, family and context factors.

1. Individual factors

Elements such as temperament or personality , as well as impulsivity and attention problems or the difficulty to adapt to changes can be basic risk factors for the development of antisocial behaviors.

Likewise, the lack of skills to solve problems, a low school or social adjustment and a lack of sociocognitive skills, make it difficult for the person to find effective and satisfactory alternatives in the resolution of conflicts beyond antisocial behaviors.

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two.Family factors

The family atmosphere as well as the styles of upbringing are essential when favoring the appearance or development of antisocial behaviors. Experiences such as the separation of parents, changes of home or experiences of more extreme situations of abuse or domestic violence can be triggers for these behaviors.

Further, Inadequate parenting styles such as very permissive or authoritarian styles they can also have a strong effect on them.

3. Environmental factors

The sociocultural context, the influence of the media, the school, peer groups or some institutions, groups or associations can also encourage or encourage the aggressive, violent or angry reactions of some people.

Associated diagnoses

Although these behaviors do not have to occur as a consequence or in association with any psychological pathology or disorder. There are a series of diagnoses in which this type of behavior appears repeatedly.

1. Antisocial personality disorder

According to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), antisocial personality disorder is defined by the appearance of a pattern of behavior that reveals a general disregard for the norms and rights of others .

The main symptoms or signs of this diagnosis include violation of rules, deception and manipulation as the main distinguishing features of this disorder. As well as impulsiveness, lack of remorse or lack of concern for the safety of others.

For this diagnosis to be made, the person must be over 18 years old, otherwise it is considered as a personality disorder.

2. Personality disocial disorder

In this second case, the behaviors are practically the same as those of antisocial personality disorder, but with the difference that they manifest themselves at an earlier age, specifically in the childhood stage or during adolescence .

These behaviors categorized as antisocial should occur recurrently and be qualitatively much more serious than the typical behaviors of rebellion that are expected at that age.


Antisocial Personality Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment (February 2024).


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