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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 Aug;71(2):288-99.

Personality and divorce: a genetic analysis.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


M. McGue and D.T. Lykken (1992) found that divorce risk was, to a substantial degree, genetically mediated; prior research has identified numerous social and psychological factors that affect divorce risk (G.C. Kitson, K.B. Barbi, & M.J. Roach, 1985). The present study attempted to link these domains by examining the extent to which genetic influences on one such psychological factor, personality, explain divorce risk heritability. A sample of adult twins from the Minnesota Twin Registry completed a marital history questionnaire and the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (A. Tellegen, 1982). Positive Emotionality and Negative Emotionality factors were positively related to divorce risk, whereas Constraint was negatively related. In women and men, respectively, 30% and 42% of the heritability of divorce risk consisted of genetic factors affecting personality and divorce risk correlated largely as a result of these common genetic influences.

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