The Dunedin Study – Criminals at the Age of 4


June Jung, Reporter

The Study

The Dunedin Study took place in New Zealand, and started in 1974 and is still going today. It watched 1,037 people for forty years watching since birth. After age eighteen most participants chose to stay in the study. If the participants moved out of the country (which most of them did) the foundation would pay for a flight so the participant could come to them, and if they were unable to travel the study would fly to them.

The Results

The Dunedin Study showed that at the age of four, they could detect who would grow up to be criminals. How much money you would make and if you had a successful life. After waiting for a long time with interviews every month, they saw results. The results told them that every assumption they made, was almost always correct. The aggressive, hitting, and tough toddlers, end up being criminals. The sharing, kind and calm toddlers end up with a generous amount of money and a successful life. Of course the choices they make and the environment play a role too, but they are mostly born that way. Though there is a gene that determines aggressiveness. Once there was a lady who came to the police station, claiming the men in her family were extremely aggressive. It turns out there is a gene that when not supplied enough can lead to over-aggression.


At the age of thirteen, Paul Woods had committed murder after being attacked. He had taken a baseball bat and defended himself, the attacker eventually trying to get away. He beat the attacker to death and was sentenced to prison. Now, Paul is happily married and has one child. He had no threat to society and after maturing he grew out of it. There are two types of teen lawbreakers. The first will break the law but then stop to their own accord. The second will do little things and then continue abusing the law.

Criminal toddlers can start with something as little as a reading defect. Slow readers might not have as much interest in school, which results in high school dropouts, and that makes criminality more tempting. Almost every teenager breaks the law, but mostly small things. Only a very small percent continue abusing it.

Five Types of People

The study shows that there are five types of people. The Well Adjusted – which is 40% of the population, who make friends easily and fit in. The Confident – which is 28 percent of the population, who are dare-devils and need to try new things. The Reserved – which is 15% of the population, who don’t talk too much, and try to avoid conversation. The Undercontrolled – which is 10% of the population, who are very violent, aggressive and tend to have criminal records. Last but not least – The Inhibited – which is only 7% of the population, who NEVER leave their house or apartment. One man didn’t leave his apartment for 2 years and ordered in for food.

I hope you learned something from this article. To learn more check out Curiosity Stream and watch the documentary.