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Twin Res. 2000 Jun;3(2):83-7.

Twin-singleton differences in intelligence?

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Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The twin method has been criticised for its alleged non-generalisability. When population parameters of intellectual abilities are estimated from a twin sample, critics point to the twin-singleton differences in intrauterine and family environments. These differences are suggested to lead to suboptimal cognitive development in twins. Although previous studies have reported twin-singleton differences in intelligence, these studies had two major drawbacks: they tested young twins, and twins were compared with (genetically) unrelated singletons. To test accurately whether twin-singleton differences in intelligence exist, a group of adult twins and their non-twin siblings were administered the Dutch WAIS-III. The group was large enough to detect twin-singleton differences of magnitudes reported in earlier investigations. The data were analysed using maximum likelihood model fitting. No evidence of differences between adult twins and their non-twin siblings on cognitive performance was found. It is concluded that twin studies provide reliable estimates of heritabilities of intellectual abilities which can be generalised to the singleton population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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