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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2008 Dec;11(6):586-95. doi: 10.1375/twin.11.6.586.

Clones in the classroom: a daily diary study of the nonshared environmental relationship between monozygotic twin differences in school experience and achievement.

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  • 1Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London, United Kingdom.


Do genetically identical children experience the same classroom differently? Are nonshared classroom experiences associated with differences in achievement? We designed a telephone diary measure which we administered every school day for 2 weeks to 122 10-year-olds in 61 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs. Each pair shared genes, a classroom, peers and a teacher. We found that MZ twins did experience their classrooms differently (rMZ < 0.65 for all measures of classroom experience). Furthermore, MZ differences in peer problems were significantly associated with MZ differences in Mathematics achievement (ES = 8%); differences in positivity about school were significantly associated with differences in Mathematics (ES = 15%) and Science (ES = 8%) achievement; and differences in 'flow' in Science lessons were associated with differences in Science achievement (ES = 12%). In a multiple regression analysis, MZ differences in positivity about school significantly predicted MZ differences in Mathematics achievement (R2 = 0.16, p < .01) and MZ differences in 'flow' in Science significantly predicted MZ differences in Science achievement (R2 = 0.10, p < .05). These results indicate that MZ twins experience the classroom differently and that differences in their experience are associated with differences in their achievement.

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