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Psychol Bull. 2000 Jan;126(1):78-108.

Nonshared environment: a theoretical, methodological, and quantitative review.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22903, USA.


When genetic similarity is controlled, siblings often appear no more alike than individuals selected at random from the population. Since R. Plomin and D. Daniels' seminal 1987 review, it has become widely accepted that the source of this dissimilarity is a variance component called nonshared environment. The authors review the conceptual foundations of nonshared environment, with emphasis on distinctions between components of environmental variance and causal properties of environmental events and between the effective and objective aspects of the environment. A statistical model of shared and nonshared environmental variables is developed. A quantitative review shows that measured nonshared environmental variables do not account for a substantial portion of the nonshared variability posited by biometric studies of behavior. Other explanations of the preponderance of nonshared environmental variability are suggested.

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