Rearing environmental influences on religiousness: An investigation of adolescent adoptees

Laura B. Koenig, Matt McGue, William G. Iacono

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16 Scopus citations


Religiousness is widely considered to be a culturally transmitted trait. However, twin studies suggest that religiousness is genetically influenced in adulthood, although largely environmentally influenced in childhood/adolescence. We examined genetic and environmental influences on a self-report measure of religiousness in a sample consisting of 284 adoptive families (two adopted adolescent siblings and their rearing parents); 208 biological families (two full biological adolescent siblings and their parents); and 124 mixed families (one adopted and one biological adolescent sibling and their parents). A sibling-family model was fit to the data to estimate genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental effects on religiousness, as well as cultural transmission and assortative mating effects. Religiousness showed little evidence of heritability and large environmental effects, which did not vary significantly by gender. This finding is consistent with the results of twin studies of religiousness in adolescent and preadolescent samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-656
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA11886) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH066140).


  • Adoption
  • Behavior genetics
  • Heritability
  • Religiousness


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