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J Fam Psychol. 2004 Mar;18(1):107-19.

Genetic and environmental influences on marital relationships.

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  • 1Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


As most adults will marry at least once during their lifetime, studying marital quality and its predictors is of great importance. The current study addresses (a) the extent of agreement between husbands and wives on their marital quality, (b) genetic and environmental sources of individual differences on spouse reports of marital quality, and (c) the extent to which genetic and environmental influences account for overlap of spouse reports on marital quality. Adult Swedish twin women and their partners participated in this study. Genotype-environment (GE) correlations were found for marital quality, suggesting that wives' genetically influenced characteristics set a tone for the marriage. Wives' genetically influenced characteristics also accounted for overlap of spouse reports of marital quality. Finally, nonshared environmental influences were the primary contributor to both individual reports and the overlap of spouse reports, an interesting deviation from findings of behavior genetic studies of other types of relationships.

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