Emergenesis: Genetic Traits That May Not Run in Families

D. T. Lykken, Matt Mc Gue, A. Tellegen, T. J. Bouchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Traits that are influenced by a configuration-rather than by a simple sum-of polymorphic genes may not be seen to be genetic unless one studies monozygotic twins (who share all their genes and thus all gene configurations) because such "emergenic" traits will tend not to run in families. Personal idiosyncrasies that have been found to be surprisingly concordant among MZ twins separated in infancy and reared apart may be emergenic traits. More speculatively, important human traits like leadership, genius in its many manifestations, being an effective therapist or parent, as well as certain psychopathological syndromes may also be emergenic. These ideas reemphasize the importance of the role played in human affairs by genetic variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1565-1577
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1992


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