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Interpreting estimates of heritability - A note on the twin decomposition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2013 (English)In: Economics and Human Biology, ISSN 1570-677x, Vol. 11, no 2, 201-205 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While most outcomes may in part be genetically mediated, quantifying genetic heritability is a different matter. To explore data on twins and decompose the variation is a classical method to determine whether variation in outcomes, e.g. IQ or schooling, originate from genetic endowments or environmental factors. Despite some criticism, the model is still widely used. The critique is generally related to how estimates of heritability may encompass environmental mediation. This aspect is sometimes left implicit by authors even though its relevance for the interpretation is potentially profound. This short note is an appeal for clarity from authors when interpreting the magnitude of heritability estimates. It is demonstrated how disregarding existing theoretical contributions can easily lead to unnecessary misinterpretations and/or controversies. The key arguments are relevant also for estimates based on data of adopted children or from modern molecular genetics research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 11, no 2, 201-205 p.
Keyword [en]
genes, environments, twin studies, gene-environment interaction, adoption studies
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88065DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2012.05.002ISI: 000317155200008OAI: diva2:609284
Available from: 2013-03-05 Created: 2013-03-05 Last updated: 2013-05-15Bibliographically approved

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Stenberg, Anders
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