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Twin Res. 2004 Oct;7(5):462-70.

Investigating the genetic and environmental structure of Cloninger's personality dimensions in adolescence.

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  • 1Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


In this study we examined the genetic and environmental structure of four dimensions from Cloninger's personality system: novelty-seeking (NS), harm-avoidance (HA), reward-dependence (RD), and persistence (PS). Although adult twin studies suggest that these personality dimensions are moderately heritable, this is the first twin study of Cloninger's personality dimensions in adolescence--a period marked by significant physiological and social changes. Study participants included 1851 adolescent twins between the ages of 11 and 18 years; 878 complete twin pairs and 95 singleton-responding twins. Subjects were participants in two community-based samples of twins residing in the state of Colorado. Results indicated that cross-sectional mean levels for NS, HA and RD tended to show modest increases across the adolescent years, while PS showed modest mean decreases. Consistent sex differences in means were found only for RD. Univariate biometrical twin models were used to decompose trait variance into genetic and environmental sources. Results indicated that for NS, HA and RD additive genetic influences and unique environmental effects were sufficient to explain the data. PS, however, could be explained by unique and common environmental effects only, with different patterns of common environmental effects for males and females. We found moderate heritability estimates for NS, HA and RD ranging from .28 to .36--with no evidence for sex-limitation in those influences.

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