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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994 Apr;66(4):722-30.

A developmental genetic analysis of adult personality: extraversion and neuroticism from 18 to 59 years of age.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405.


Developmental genetic analyses were conducted on Extraversion (E) and Neuroticism (N) scale scores from nearly 15,000 male and female Finnish twins, ages 18-53 at baseline, who were tested on 2 occasions, 6 years apart. Significant genetic effects on both traits were found, at all ages, in men and women, on each measurement occasion. For E, heritability was invariant across sex but decreased from late adolescence to the late 20s, with a smaller additional decrease at about 50 years of age. Heritability for N also decreased from late adolescence to late 20s and remained stable thereafter. For all ages after the early 20s, heritability of N was significantly higher among women. Means for E and N were sex-dependent and, apparently, influenced by cohort and time of assessment, as well as by age. There was little evidence of new genetic contributions to individual differences after age 30; in contrast, significant new environmental effects emerged at every age.

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