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Genotype-Environment Correlation in the Era of DNA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-638
Number of pages10
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


King's Authors


One of John Loehlin’s many contributions to the field of behavioral genetics involves gene-environment (GE) correlation. The empirical base for GE correlation was research showing that environmental measures are nearly as heritable as behavioral measures and that genetic factors mediate correlations between environment and behavior. Attempts to identify genes responsible for these phenomena will come up against the ‘missing heritability’ problem that plagues DNA research on complex traits throughout the life sciences. However, DNA can also be used for quantitative genetic analyses of unrelated individuals (Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis, GCTA) to investigate genetic influence on environmental measures and their behavioral correlates. A novel feature of GCTA is that it enables genetic analysis of family-level environments (e.g., parental socioeconomic status) and school-level environments (e.g., teaching quality) that cannot be investigated using within-family designs such as the twin method. An important implication of GE correlation is its shift from a passive model of the environment imposed on individuals to an active model in which individuals actively create their own experiences in part on the basis of their genetic propensities.

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