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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Jun;80(6):845-60.

The heritability of attitudes: a study of twins.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. jolson@julian.uwo.ca


The genetic basis of individual differences in attitudes was examined in a survey of 195 pairs of monozygotic twins and 141 pairs of same-sex dizygotic twins. A principal components analysis of the 30 attitude items in the survey identified 9 attitude factors, of which 6 yielded significant heritability coefficients. Nonshared environmental factors accounted for the most variance in the attitude factors. Possible mediators of attitude heritability were also assessed, including personality traits, physical characteristics, and academic achievement. Analyses showed that several of these possible mediators correlated at a genetic level with the heritable attitude factors, suggesting that the heritability of the mediator variables might account for part of the heritable components of some attitudes. There was also some evidence that highly heritable attitudes were psychologically "stronger" than less heritable attitudes.

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