The heritability of personality is not always 50%: Gene-environment interactions and correlations between personality and parenting

Robert F. Krueger, Susan South, Wendy Johnson, William Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations

Abstract

Twin studies of personality are consistent in attributing approximately half of the variance in personality to genetic effects, with the remaining variance attributed to environments that make people within the same families different. Such conclusions, however, are based on quantitative models of human individual differences that estimate genetic and environmental contributions as constants for entire populations. Recent advances in statistical modeling allow for the possibility of estimating genetic and environmental contributions contingent on other variables, allowing the quantification of phenomena that have traditionally been characterized as gene-environment interaction and correlation. We applied these newer models to understand how adolescents' descriptions of their relationships with their parents might change or moderate the impact of genetic and environmental factors on personality. We documented notable moderation in the domains of positive and negative emotionality, with parental relationships acting both to enhance and diminish both genetic and environmental effects. We discuss how genetic and environmental contributions to personality might be more richly conceptualized as dynamic systems of gene-environment interplay - systems that are not captured by classical concepts, such as the overall heritability of personality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1485-1522
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of personality
Volume76
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

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