Behavior Genetics

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 216-228

Genetic Analysis of Anger: Genetic Dominance or Competitive Sibling Interaction

  • Irene RebolloAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Psychology, Vrije UniversiteitDepartment of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Email author 
  • , Dorret I. BoomsmaAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit

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The knowledge of the causes and development of anger is still scarce. Previous studies on the sources of variance on Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP) related measures found variable heritability estimates ranging from 0.12 to 0.68, and large differences between MZ and DZ correlations. Some authors considered dominance genetic effects, competitive sibling interaction and sex differences as possible mechanisms to explain the results, but most studies lacked power. The present study uses a large sample of more than 2500 families, with longitudinal data from MZ and DZ pairs as well as their parents, to disentangle the sources of variance on anger. Model Fitting results showed that the sources of variance differ across sexes. For males 23% of the variance is due to additive genetic effects, and 26% to dominance genetic effects. For females 34% of the variance is due to additive genetic effects, and no dominance effects are found. There was no consistent evidence to confirm the presence of competitive sibling interaction as an alternative explanation for the low correlations in DZ males. The focus of research on the prediction of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk through psychological characteristics has recently changed from the multidimensional TABP to its emotional component: Anger. Understanding the sources of individual differences on anger can help to clarify the mechanisms that link it with CHD and its possible implications for treatment and prevention.


Anger dominance family sex differences sibling interaction twins Type A behavior