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Science. 1994 Jun 17;264(5166):1733-9.

The genetic basis of complex human behaviors.

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  • 1Center for Developmental and Health Genetics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802.


Quantitative genetic research has built a strong case for the importance of genetic factors in many complex behavioral disorders and dimensions in the domains of psychopathology, personality, and cognitive abilities. Quantitative genetics can also provide an empirical guide and a conceptual framework for the application of molecular genetics. The success of molecular genetics in elucidating the genetic basis of behavioral disorders has largely relied on a reductionistic one gene, one disorder (OGOD) approach in which a single gene is necessary and sufficient to develop a disorder. In contrast, a quantitative trait loci (QTL) approach involves the search for multiple genes, each of which is neither necessary nor sufficient for the development of a trait. The OGOD and QTL approaches have both advantages and disadvantages for identifying genes that affect complex human behaviors.

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