Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Loneliness in Adults: The Netherlands Twin Register Study Article Received: 22 June 2004 Accepted: 20 May 2005 DOI:
Cite this article as: Boomsma, D.I., Willemsen, G., Dolan, C.V. et al. Behav Genet (2005) 35: 745. doi:10.1007/s10519-005-6040-8 Abstract
Heritability estimates based on two small studies in children indicate that the genetic contribution to individual differences in loneliness is approximately 50%. Heritability estimates of complex traits such as loneliness may change across the lifespan, however, as the frequency, duration, and range of exposure to environmental influences accrues, or as the expression of genetic factors changes. We examined data on loneliness from 8,387 young adult and adult Dutch twins who had participated in longitudinal survey studies. A measure of loneliness was developed based on factor analyses of items of the YASR (Achenbach,
(1990) The Young Adult Self Report, University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry, Burlington, VT). Variation in loneliness was analyzed with genetic structural equation models. The estimate of genetic contributions to variation in loneliness in adults was 48%, which is similar to the heritability estimates found previously in children. There was no evidence for sex or age differences in genetic architecture. Sex differences in prevalence were significant, but we did not see an association with age or birth cohort. All resemblance between twin relatives was explained by shared genes, without any suggestion of a contribution of shared environmental factors. Keywords Heritability loneliness twins young adults References Achenbach, T. M. 1990The Young Adult Self Report University of Vermont, Dept of Psychiatry Burlington, VT Google Scholar Baumeister, R. F., Leary, M. R. 1995 The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachment as a fundamental human motivation Psychol. Bull. 117 497 529 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar Berscheid, E., Reis, H. T. 1998 Attraction and close relationships Gilbert, D. T. Fiske, S. T. eds. The Handbook of Social Psychology. Vol. 24 McGraw Hill New York 193 281 Google Scholar Boomsma, D. I., Koopmans, J. R., Doornen, L. J. P., Orlebeke, J. F. 1994 Genetic and social influences on starting to smoke: a study of Dutch adolescent twins and their parents Addiction 89 219 226 PubMed Google Scholar Boomsma, D. I., Geus, E. J. C., Baal, G. C. M., Koopmans, J. R. 1999 Religious upbringing reduces the influence of genetic factors on disinhibition: Evidence for interaction between genotype and environment Twin Res. 2 115 125 CrossRef PubMed Google Scholar Boomsma, D. I., Beem, A. L., Berg, M., Dolan, C. V., Koopmans, J. R., Vink, J. M., Geus, E. J. C., Slagboom, P. E. 2000 Netherlands twin family study of anxious depression (NETSAD) Twin Res. 3 323 334 PubMed Google Scholar Boomsma, D. I., Busjahn, A., Peltonen, L. 2002 The classical twin study and beyond Nat. Genet. Rev. 3 872 882 Google Scholar
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