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Behav Genet. 2000 May;30(3):223-33.

Further evidence against the environmental transmission of individual differences in neuroticism from a collaborative study of 45,850 twins and relatives on two continents.

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Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.


We examine the hypothesis that environmental transmission is a significant factor in individual differences for Neuroticism among 45,850 members of extended twin kinships from Australia (N = 20,945) and the United States (N = 24,905). To this large data set we fitted a model estimating genetic and environmental components of variance and gene-environmental covariance to examine the causes of individual differences in Neuroticism. For the combined sample we reject models including environmental transmission, shared environment, and a special twin environment in favor of more parsimonious genetic models. The best-fitting model involved only modest assortative mating, nonshared environment, and both additive and nonadditive genetic components. We conclude, first, that there is no evidence for environmental transmission as a contribution to individual differences in Neuroticism in these replicated samples, drawn from different continents, and, second, that a simple genetic structure underlies familial resemblance for the personality trait of Neuroticism. It is interesting that, despite the opportunity provided by the elaborate design and extensive power of our study, the picture revealed for the causes of individual differences in Neuroticism is little more complex than that found from earlier, simpler designs applied to smaller samples. However, this simplicity could not have been confirmed without using a highly informative design and a very large sample.

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