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Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2010 Aug 1;18(4):217-220.

Beyond Heritability: Twin Studies in Behavioral Research.

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Department of Psychology and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh.


The heritability of human behavioral traits is now well established, due in large measure to classical twin studies. We see little need for further studies of the heritability of individual traits in behavioral science, but the twin study is far from having outlived its usefulness. The existence of pervasive familial influences on behavior means that selection bias is always a concern in any study of the causal effects of environmental circumstances. Twin samples continue to provide new opportunities to identify causal effects with appropriate genetic and shared environmental controls. We discuss environmental studies of discordant twin pairs and twin studies of genetic and environmental transactions in this context.

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