Heritability of Interests: A Twin Study

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The authors administered inventories of vocational and recreational interests and talents to 924 pairs of twins who had been reared together and to 92 pairs separated in infancy and reared apart. Factor analysis of all 291 items yielded 39 identifiable factors and 11 superfactors. The data indicated that about 50% of interests variance (about two thirds of the stable variance) was associated with genetic variation. The authors show that heritability can be conservatively estimated from the within-pair correlations of adult monozygotic twins reared together. Evidence for nonadditive genetic effects on interests may explain why heritability estimates based on family studies are so much lower. The authors propose a model in which precursor traits of aptitude and personality, in part genetically determined, guide the development of interests through the mechanisms of gene-environment correlation and interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-661
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1993

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