Sources of human psychological differences: the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart

Science  12 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4978, pp. 223-228
DOI: 10.1126/science.2218526


Since 1979, a continuing study of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, separated in infancy and reared apart, has subjected more than 100 sets of reared-apart twins or triplets to a week of intensive psychological and physiological assessment. Like the prior, smaller studies of monozygotic twins reared apart, about 70% of the variance in IQ was found to be associated with genetic variation. On multiple measures of personality and temperament, occupational and leisure-time interests, and social attitudes, monozygotic twins reared apart are about as similar as are monozygotic twins reared together. These findings extend and support those from numerous other twin, family, and adoption studies. It is a plausible hypothesis that genetic differences affect psychological differences largely indirectly, by influencing the effective environment of the developing child. This evidence for the strong heritability of most psychological traits, sensibly construed, does not detract from the value or importance of parenting, education, and other propaedeutic interventions.

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