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Book Review: Character, Circumstances, and Criminal Careers. Towards a Dynamic Developmental and Life-Course Criminology by Per-Olof H. Wikström, Kyle Treiber, and Gabriela D. Roman

This article contains a lengthy book review of the follow-up to ‘Breaking Rules’ (Wikström et al, 2012) , namely ‘Character, Circumstances, and Criminal Careers’ by Wikström, Treiber and Roman (2024). It provides an overview of the book and some reflections about the ...

Published onMay 31, 2024
Book Review: Character, Circumstances, and Criminal Careers. Towards a Dynamic Developmental and Life-Course Criminology by Per-Olof H. Wikström, Kyle Treiber, and Gabriela D. Roman
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Abstract

This article contains a lengthy book review of the follow-up to ‘Breaking Rules’ (Wikström et al, 2012) , namely ‘Character, Circumstances, and Criminal Careers’ by Wikström, Treiber and Roman (2024). It provides an overview of the book and some reflections about the development of the theory and some possible avenues for future research.

“Character, circumstances, and criminal careers. Towards a Dynamic Developmental and Life-Course Criminology” is the most recent and voluminous contribution of Per-Olof Wikström, Kyle Treiber, and Gabriela Roman to both theory and empirical life-course developmental research. The book will be of great interest to scholars who are professionally interested in the development and testing of theories of crime causation in general, and of course, developmental criminologists in particular, but also scholars who are interested in social and developmental crime prevention.

This scholarly endeavour is really remarkable in an era characterised by short, theoretical, or empirical contributions to the field through articles in established journals. Theories and their empirical tests are a matter of rigorous work and therefore this lengthy book will be not only a pleasure to study for those who are already familiar with the theoretical framework of situational action theory (SAT) and those who want to update their knowledge on the theory but also to a new generation of scholars who are not acquainted with the latest developments in criminological theorizing.

While the situational theoretical framework was introduced to the field of criminology by Wikström in 20041 to explain situational dynamics in crime causation (what are the situational dynamics of rule-breaking), and the complementary framework - the developmental ecological action model (DEA-model) of SAT) - was originally introduced in 2005, continuous theoretical refinements were made. The situational framework was detailed and explained in ‘Breaking Rules’ (2012) by Wikström, Treiber, Oberwittler, and Hardie.

This book was highly innovative, using interdisciplinary state-of-the-art frameworks and novel methods, such as the Space-Time Budget analysis and randomised scenario studies to explore the situational dynamics of rule-breaking. The book provided arguments and empirical evidence for the situational dynamics of crime causation and set off an increasing number of empirical tests. What I appreciated about “Breaking Rules” was how deeply the book was framed within the philosophy of science and the philosophy of crime causation, especially the work of the Argentinian-Canadian philosopher of science Mario Bunge. Consequently, the anticipation for a follow-up was quite high.

The current book (Wikström, Treiber, and Roman, 2024) builds on the tradition of rigorous theoretical argumentation and presents the latest version of SAT (while the core remains the same). Moreover, the book presents the key arguments of the DEA-model, and therefore provides a very rich contribution to the risk-factor dominated life-course developmental research and poses a serious challenge to the classic theoretical frameworks that are utilized in life-course criminological research. The argument is that to understand the dynamics of criminal careers, it is important to start from the act and try to understand both changes and stability in both individual characteristics (propensities, desires, sensitivities, in short: ‘character’) and exposure to criminogenic settings (peoples and micro-place characteristics). Especially the social dynamics, particularly within the family and school environments, regarding changes and stability in rule-breaking, propensity, and exposure, are empirically scrutinized using a variety of advanced statistical models. These models are ultimately combined in an analytically sound manner, guided by theory.2

This book is divided into four extensively documented parts, accompanied by a detailed appendix that clarifies methodological and statistical issues, such as choices and technical information like model fit. Given that this book is primarily about SAT as a theoretical framework and its application in testing using the PADS+ data, I will devote significant attention to the content of the theoretical chapters (and their measurements). These aspects may particularly appeal to readers interested in theoretical criminology, and they are also the areas in which I feel most capable of discussion given my previous involvement in theory testing and measurement issues.

Part One consists of two theory-driven chapters. Chapter One delves into the significance of addressing the dynamics of person-environment interactions in explaining criminal events as actions. This forms the foundation of developmental life-course perspectives, viewing criminal careers as sequences of actions occurring at irregular intervals. This chapter addresses the primary challenges of a life-course dynamic framework providing life-course criminologists with insights into theory guidance challenges and methodological shortcomings typical in research aiming to theoretically explain criminal careers. This discussion is particularly beneficial for those unfamiliar with the framework of situational action theory. The basic argument proposed by the authors is the importance of considering both the situational dynamics of crime causation and the factors driving criminal careers, action-relevant propensities (personal morals and self-control ability), and exposure to criminogenic settings.

Chapter Two delves into the basics of SAT, but goes beyond that by providing the most detailed account of SAT that is available at the moment, and the best-described developmental ecological action model, which has been around for a while (Wikström, 2005; but see Wikström & Treiber, 2019 and Wikström, 2020 for a significant update). I strongly recommend that the reader study this theoretical chapter for different reasons. Theories are always in full development. Ideas are refined, testable hypotheses are reformulated, there is conceptual clarification and for those whose memory spans the life-history of SAT, a lot has happened since the first article on SAT and this theoretical chapter. As has been argued before, every theory should start with assumptions about human nature and social order (see Agnew, 2011).

Wikström et al. (2024) have put great efforts into distinguishing their theory from control theory (the theory of the social bond) and modern control theory (Gottfredson & Hirschi,2020). This criticism has been made earlier by control theorists, but for very simplistic reasons, such as the fact that the measure of morality is empirically quite similar to Hirschi’s measure of moral beliefs (Britt & Costello, 2015, but also see Britt & Rocque, 2016 ).3 SAT is about much more than different bonds to ‘conventional society’ and about the simple assumption that motivation is irrelevant. Simply stating that it is a somewhat refined or more complex form of control theory (and most notably of self-control theory) entirely ignores the many conceptual differences between the key concepts (for an earlier augmentation of the differences see Wikström & Treiber, 2008 and Wikström, 2019). This theoretical chapter also clearly describes how SAT differs from Rational Choice Theory (RCT).

Concerning RCT, some arguments have been presented earlier (see Wikström & Treiber, 2015). Although different versions of RCT exist (such as ‘wide’ and ‘narrow’ versions4), the vague concept of utility maximization is one of the key concepts of RCT that is questioned. I don’t know whether it was the right choice to contrast SAT with a particular version of RCT (namely Opp’s version of RCT, which is probably less known in criminology). However, Wikström, Treiber, and Roman (2024) defend their choice because especially Opp (2020), a major proponent of a wide version of RCT has vehemently criticised SAT. Therefore it seems the right choice of Wikström, Treiber, and Roman (2024) to reply to these criticisms, as a debate is the only way to move theory forward. Both theories (SAT and RCT) have a different structure and a major problem is the wide proliferation of definitions of rationality, which is also acknowledged by Opp (2017).5 Furthermore, RCT and Opp’s wide version of RCT take a different stance on dual process decision-making. Opp’s version is based on Fazio’s work but maintains in some publications that utility maximization is at the core of both forms of decision-making. SAT integrates both utilitarian and deontological forms of moral decision-making. The former refers to individuals who deliberate by weighing costs and benefits after perceiving crime as an action alternative, the latter refers to individuals who do not perceive crime as an alternative altogether.

SAT also takes a different stance concerning social learning theories, such as the social learning theory by Ronald Akers (2017 [1998] and Bandura’s version of a social learning theory, namely moral disengagement theory (Bandura, 2002). In comparison to Akers’ social learning model, SAT distinguishes between the way content is learned and the way content may be reinforced through repeated acting and the ‘soft’ behaviourism of operant conditioning.6 SAT pays more attention to how the content of personal moral rules is learned, i.e. in SAT through a process of moral education. The major argument of Wikström, Treiber, and Roman (2024) against Bandura’s theory of moral disengagement (which ultimately is strongly influenced by Matza and Sykes’ (1957) theory of neutralization techniques) is the question as to whether one neutralizes one’s personal morals to see crime as an action alternative or as to whether one applies one’s personal rules given the circumstances. It is the latter position that is defended in SAT and that seems the most reasonable to me given the situational nature of personal moral rules. I assume that a potential source of misunderstanding relates to the definition of morality (the moral norms of society versus personal moral rules). I hope I have touched upon enough interesting issues for the interested reader to delve into the theory in detail. However, this is not the place for an exhaustive analysis of every statement in SAT in comparison to other theories.

SAT differs from all mentioned theories in its vision of human nature and social order. The fact that humans are rule-guided does not only fit with the arguments of some contemporary neuroscientists. The confusion among social scientists and philosophers about human nature as being selfish or altruistic is in my view not so relevant anymore, as the puzzle of human sociality was solved by evolutionary biologists some time ago. Namely, genetic selfishness may lead to both psychological selfishness and psychological selflessness. Humans are on a continuum, and during the past 7 million years during which the process of hominization has taken place, strong selection pressure has been placed on sociality (cooperative tendencies). Any naïve stance on this debate seems to be outdated (the so-called Rousseau-Hobbes debate). Rule guidance just means that people tend to be guided by rules. This may go from simple if-then rules to more complex learned rules. It says nothing about the content of these rules. One could argue that psychological egoism, just like psychological selflessness, is a situational rule: if I am in context A I will act at the expense of others. 7

SAT also stresses the importance of some kind of consensus as a basis for the making of rules. I am certain that many criminologists will disagree. There is a lot of conflict and it does matter who makes the rules. However, this acknowledgment is clearly stated in SAT. Therefore, simply criticizing the theory for denying conflict, a criticism that conflict sociologists and radical sociologists have utilized since the 1960s, does not imply that conflict is denied. Conflict is especially relevant in the understanding of rule-making, which is not what SAT aims to explain. Different normative systems are just different cultural systems that solve the same age-old problem of cooperation under different ecological selective pressures.

The explanation of the DEA model then is a serious attempt to build upon the shoulders of giants. It improves previous influential life-course theories, by further stressing the importance of explaining criminal careers by starting from the explanation of an act as a consequence of person-environment interactions and then looking at the changes in the key drivers of propensity and exposure to criminogenic settings. The distinction between psycho-ecological and socio-ecological processes adds value to our understanding of the complexity of such a complex issue as the changes in criminal careers. Here, the influence of Uri Bronfenbrenner’s developmental ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, which evolved into a bio-ecological model (Bronfenbrenner, 2005)) is clearly present.

Enough has been said about the theory, let us now proceed by summarizing subsequent chapters.

Part Two introduces the Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Study, the design used, and the key findings about participants’ crime and criminal careers. This is the focus of Chapter Three. Scholars who have been following the development of SAT and who are well acquainted with ‘Breaking Rules’ are probably aware of the methodologies used in this multi-method study, especially those specifically designed to address the key challenge of measuring and situationally modelling the crime event as the spatio-temporal convergence (and interaction) of people in places (see Hardie, 2020). However, this chapter is not a simple rehashing of the key aspects of the methodology, as the study reports on new findings and covers a longer time frame. Attention is paid to the sampling design, the final sample, and the retention rate (which is remarkably high but confirms a key problem in criminal career research, namely the huge challenge of keeping track of participants once they enter the stage of early adulthood), and the way missing data were handled. Also, here is a careful comparison of lost participants and their key characteristics relevant to this study. This chapter thus introduces additional data collections since “Breaking Rules”. The Space-Time Budget method, combined with two community surveys (and their challenges), and criminal records are discussed here. The combination of methods is one of the empirical strong elements of the Peterborough study. While it has been standard to combine data in theory-testing research (such as combining census data and survey data, now a common practice), it is important to stress the significance of methodological innovations in actually modelling the dynamics of criminal careers and the situational dynamics of action causation.

Chapter Four deals with the measures of crime and criminal careers, and the advantages and disadvantages of each method, like police statistics and self-reported delinquency data. The choices for items tapping into self-reported offending are explained (a mixture or a sample from the types of crimes that are generally committed by adolescents), and a series of items that refer to crimes that are committed at a later age. Such decisions are extremely important in longitudinal studies. An important lesson I have learned from this chapter is the necessity to carefully choose between open-ended questions versus caped variables about self-reported offending.

Since criminal careers are studied and theoretically explained among young people aged 13 to 24, attention is paid to the consequences of this development. As people grow older, not only do their patterns of offending change (in terms of versatility, frequency, and the types of offences committed), and this needs to be reflected in the study design. The same applies to the measure of criminogenic exposure. Wikström, Treiber, and Roman (2024) pay attention to this (underestimated) problem and consistently provide insight into the correlational validity of different measures, recognizing the pros and cons of all choices.

Chapter Five is devoted to the methodological issue of trajectory modelling of crime involvement. This chapter holds significant methodological importance in fully understanding why several statistical techniques, all of which have demonstrated their relevance to criminal career studies, are utilized. Each method is carefully chosen to model the complex dynamics of criminal careers, including their situational and developmental dynamics. Special attention is paid to trajectory groups concerning crime prevalence, frequency, and characteristics of criminal careers. SAT does not take a stance on the number of trajectories one may expect to find, but the results reveal a pattern similar to Moffit’s taxonomy model (McGee & Moffitt, 2019). In my opinion, discussions on the number of trajectories have not advanced the field, as finding subgroups may indeed be a consequence of the sample drawn. Moreover, it has the disadvantage of scholars desperately searching for separate causes of specific trajectories, when this may simply be an artifact.

Part Three and Part Four are entirely devoted to testing the DEA model of situational action theory. Part Three focuses on the causes and drivers of criminal careers, while Part Four focuses on the role of social context.

Chapter Six focuses on the concept, stability and change, and trajectory groups of crime propensity and its key facets, namely personal morality and the ability to exercise self-control. Let us recap first. Propensity in SAT is the tendency to see crime as an action alternative and the choice (deliberately or habitually) to act upon that tendency. Attention is paid to the meaning of the concepts in SAT. Sometimes confusion arises regarding the concept of personal morals because the concept of ‘morality’ encompasses myriad meanings across different disciplines. The strength of personal moral rules is related to the activation of moral emotions (such as the anticipation of shame and guilt8). The reader is informed about these measures, how they are conceptually defined, and how they are operationalized. This provides clear guidance on how to test SAT as intended by the authors. While maintaining a healthy critical attitude is important, in my opinion, each test of SAT should first attempt to replicate the findings using operational measures as close to the original study design as possible. Subsequently, further exploration can be pursued if the findings lead to different interpretations or prove incongruent.9

Other methodological implications discussed include expected relatively strong correlations with measures that are supposed to be strongly related to the concept of personal moral rules. It also explains why generalized measures are chosen (e.g. to increase the variation in propensity). Notwithstanding that the ‘personal morality scale’ has three dimensions, the overall scale is used in this study. While the use of generalized measures has many advantages (such as providing insights into reliability and validity), some scholars may find this at odds with the rule-specific personal morality (i.e. the content) theoretically stressed in SAT. This exemplifies an old debate about single-item measures versus scale-based measures. Single items tailor the measure to the content but provide no insight into reliabilities (for a discussion, see Diamantopolous et al. (2012), Loo (2002)), whereas scales do provide insight into reliabilities and validity but may be less adequate for specific kinds of rule-breaking.

The concept of self-control is the second key component of crime propensity in SAT. Self-control is defined as ‘the ability to act in accordance with one’s own morality when externally challenged to do otherwise’. The ability to exercise self-control is an individual trait, while the exercising of self-control is the individual’s application of their self-control ability in the circumstance in which they take part (i.e. something they bring to the circumstance to which they react and act). The conceptual definition aligns closely with Robert Sapolsky’s (2017) interpretation of self-control as the ability to do the right thing, when it is the hard thing to do. The ‘right thing’ should be understood from the moral perspective of the actor.

The SAT conceptof self-control differ from the concept of self-control used in the General Theory of Crime (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 2020) in that its active influence on action is essentially situational (even though the theory acknowledge that people vary in their self-control ability). The scale used in the book to measure the ability to exercise self-control is based on selected items from the Bursik and Grasmick scale, tapping into the dimensions of risk-taking/impulsivity and short-sightedness.. The original Bursik—Grasmick scale has been debated among scholars, with proponents arguing for its use and critics advocating against it for various reasons, including the poor performance of certain facets.

Although the concept of propensity is not equivalent to morality and self-control ability, its operationalization involves combining the generalized morality scale and the generalized self-control ability scale. While the creation of overall constructs is not without criticism, Wikström, Treiber, and Roman (2024) demonstrate that their construct strongly correlates with a measure of ‘perceived temptation’ (which was part of the PDS+ questionnaire, together with other scales such as guilt and shame).10 In this chapter, we also discover that the concept of self-control ability correlates, albeit weakly, with several cognitive tasks that measure cognitive abilities situated in the neo-cortex, which is strongly developed in humans (but to a lesser extent, also in non-human primates, such as chimpanzees and bonobos). In a similar detailed way, the operationalisation of exposure is described.11 Subsequently, we gain insight into the findings regarding the remarkable stability of the concept, although sufficient variation exists regarding its dimensions. That trait-like characteristics are relatively stable is nothing new, but the trajectory of propensities is less documented and the mapping of crime trajectories and trajectories of propensity and exposure is definitely novel.

Chapter Seven delves into criminogenic exposure, encompassing its measurement, including criminogenic physical settings with their moral climate and deterrent qualities, as well as peers. This chapter also explores the stability and changes in the concept, trajectory groups based on levels of criminogenic exposure, and, - extremely important in a panel study - the adaptability of the measurement of exposure as a function of adolescents' transition into young adulthood. This required some adjustments to the measurement, as unstructured routines for adolescents differ from those in early adulthood. Similar to propensity, individuals follow different trajectories of criminogenic exposure, influenced by factors such as social selection, which is later addressed in the book.

Chapter Eight starts with a challenging discussion on the “smorgasbord” (risk-and protective factor-based) explanations and contrasts these explanations with changes in propensity and exposure. This chapter deals with the age-crime curve and how it is explained from the standpoint of SAT. It should be of interest to all scholars interested in the theoretical explanations of the relationship between age and crime. While the age-crime curve has been studied for ages ( at least empirically since the 19th century) theoreticians seem to be strongly divided on the topic. This is mainly because empirical tests of theories have established that a statistical age effect seems to explain little of the variation in any dependent variable. Additionally, age effects generally tend to decrease when variables from ‘different theoretical schools’ are controlled for. Historically, most empirical studies of the age-crime relationship have explained differences between individuals (mostly adolescents). Even as an increasing number of studies have been focusing on within-individual changes, no attention has been paid to the convergence issue over time. What sets the analyses in this book apart from those in other studies (as far as I know) is that this study can map changes in crime involvement onto changes in crime propensity and criminogenic exposure. Various additional analyses are shown, including the examination of the propensity exposure interaction across different ages.

Chapter Nine deals with the drivers of crime propensity and criminogenic exposure. It is a highly informative but at the same time quite technical chapter. However, the authors consistently summarize the findings and arguments in the conclusive paragraph, which makes the book also accessible for scholars who have no background in trajectory modelling. The drivers of crime trajectories are dissected. Changes between and within subjects are explored concerning propensity and exposure, as well as changes in propensity and exposure by trajectory class (infrequent, adolescent-limited, persistent). The results are in line with the key idea of SAT, namely that changes in propensity and exposure drive changes in offending (as they provide input into the perception-choice process). Changes in crime propensity and exposure are thus highly relevant to changes in criminal careers. Trajectories of crime propensity and exposure are studied in relation to crime trajectories.

Chapter Ten examines the role of the social context in the development of criminal careers and starts with the previously described paradox: “While most people who develop criminal careers come from deprived areas, most people from deprived areas do not develop criminal careers” (Wikström & Treiber, 2016). The findings will appeal to scholars interested in understanding the complex relationship between disadvantage, schooling, and family bonds in shaping trajectories. Social disadvantage and its complex, often weaker-than-expected relationships to crime involvement have puzzled criminologists and social scientists for a long time. Therefore, this chapter should be of interest to a wide audience. Social disadvantage and adversity may be indirectly related to criminal careers by steering individuals into different trajectories, thus confirming the hypothesis that the effects of characteristics related to disadvantage are only indirectly related to crime.12 Disadvantage and adversity may weaken the influence of moral education and the quality of cognitive nurturing, which in turn may affect changes in propensity and exposure to criminogenic settings. The results show that childhood disadvantage is related to weak family attachment, poor family functioning, and poor school relationships (although the effects are weak to moderate) and thus the causal relevance really is moderate. The indirect effect of childhood disadvantage via poor family functioning is, in my opinion, a key message here. The role of family functioning is of interest because families theoretically can try to influence the development of a trajectory of high propensity and high criminogenic exposure. Some readers may be surprised to see that only a minority of disadvantaged youth enter each crime trajectory.

Finally, technical appendices have been added to inform the reader about the methodological aspects of the statistical techniques used to study the panel data, including fixed and random effect models. Additionally, the hybrid model, which is novel and warrants further inquiry in developmental life course theories, is discussed.

Conclusion and discussion

To summarize, SAT has evolved into a highly detailed and informative theoretical framework documenting the trajectories of young people’s lives from early adolescence to early adulthood - a crucial part of their development. While ‘Breaking Rules’ previously had a clear impact on the increasing number of empirical tests of SAT, I am confident that this book will similarly influence the testing of the testable developmental hypotheses. The authors’ continuous refinement of their arguments and the meticulous testing of various developmental hypotheses are the primary factors that lead me to anticipate this study’s significant impact on life-course criminology. However, the complexity of the theory will continue to challenge scholars seeking to test its implications.

This book takes the concept of agency seriously and provides an approach to agency that I find realistic. Although agency is a concept highly debated among scholars of life-course criminology, I fear it has become as inflated in this field as the concept of rationality in theories of choice. Here, agency is concisely defined as the ability to act upon the environment.13 This leads me to a more philosophical discussion. We can decide to act in what we think is reasonable to do given the circumstances, but we cannot truly choose our sensitivities and preferences. In that sense, I am a free-will sceptic, which does not imply at all that I believe in fatalism -neither genes nor the environment are destiny. I simply view the concept of free will as a pleasant illusion, recognizing that proponents and critics often use different definitions (see Sapolsky (2023) for a challenging discussion). This study proves itself to be testable and is worthy of critical tests by other scholars in the field of life-course developmental criminology.

There is a lot to be learned from this book. Theory development is not an overnight process, it requires testing, reformulating the arguments, and finding the best methods to validly measure the concepts a stake. Taken together, the PADS+ study must have taken years of hard work to finetune the theory and gather adequate data, which, as is the case with all empirical studies, are never free from measurement error and the challenges of attrition.

There are several appealing aspects central to SAT. As a theory, it began from scratch, rather than being a control theory -which it is not, unless one wants every variable to be a control variable, thereby decreasing the informative content -, or a learning theory, or a rational choice theory. Starting from scratch and rebuilding the foundations of the theory, with a strong basis in the philosophy of science, and philosophical tradition of action theories, and strong developmental theories, can be a rewarding strategy. Another aspect is the simultaneous, and in my view quintessential, integration of both the individual and the environment. Admittedly, SAT is not the only theory that considers both aspects, but it is the first theory to stress the importance of distinguishing between the environment in which people perceive action alternatives and make choices within the context of constraints, versus developmental environments, which may set people on different trajectories with consequences for their crime involvement.

What about future directions and limitations? The PADS+ study takes into account the development of young people into young adults. However, individuals do not only acquire norms through a long process of socialisation, and internalisation of rules, but they also inherit their genes from their biological parents. It is well established at the population level that populations change through a dual process model (gene-culture co-evolution). Biology (and evolution) still have a problematic relationship with mainstream criminology, although the situation has improved significantly. SAT’s DEA model may indeed be an open invitation to take the role of biology (e.g. regarding patterns of inheritance and developmental maturation) seriously in a mechanism-based explanation (instead of a risk factor-based explanation). Maybe the next step is to question the indirect role of (epi)genetics in the age of the genome in understanding the (epi)genetic basis of early development of propensities and exposure and how social selection affects these processes. The role of genetics is much more nuanced than the way scholars thought about genetics for the largest part of the 20th century, and the loaded discussion about the ‘role of the family’ as the shared environment often turns out to be low in comparison to the role of the non-shared environment (Plomin, 2019). Considering the necessity of distinguishing between the short-term developmental dynamics of shared environments, and the problems related to the assumptions underlying the use of behavioural genetics in defining shared and non-shared environments, it is understandable that behavioural genetics has faced heavy criticism. This criticism stems from issues such as the so-called missing genes paradox and the failure to distinguish heritability from patterns of inheritance.14 Even though biology matters without doubt and one should also be willing to see the nature of nurture, there is enough reason from an evolutionary standpoint not to dismiss the role of early family experiences (see Sapolsky, 2018; Barber, 2000 for interesting discussions). However, incorporating biology into the DEA model is a challenging avenue, as all traits and states are the results of complex interactions between our biology and our ecology, and culture, broadly speaking. As the PADS+ participants age, many will have children and this may leave room for an intergenerational extension. Ultimately, the DEA model may lay the foundation for asking questions about the possible adaptive functions, by-products, and maladaptive functions of propensities, sensitivities, etc, which is a chance to embed a developmental action theory into an evolutionary account. Whether these avenues for future research, which I briefly touched upon in this extended review of the DEA model, will be fruitful is unclear at the moment of writing. What is clear, however, is that a very useful and challenging interdisciplinary framework has been proposed, rigorously empirically tested, and corroborated. And as the strength of a theory depends on the number of critical tests it survives, SAT is here to stay, that is for sure.

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