Original Research

Behavior Genetics

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 120-131

First online:

A Demonstration of the Generalizability of Twin-based Research on Antisocial Behavior

  • J. C. BarnesAffiliated withSchool of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas Email author 
  • , Brian B. BoutwellAffiliated withCollege of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University

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Researchers typically analyze samples of twin pairs in order to decompose trait variance into genetic and environmental components. This methodological technique, referred to as twin-based research, rests on several assumptions that must be satisfied in order to produce unbiased results. While research has analyzed the tenability of certain assumptions such as equal environments, less attention has been given to whether results gleaned from samples of twins generalize to the broader population of non-twins. The current study analyzed data drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and findings suggested twins do not systematically differ from the general population of non-twins on many measures of behavior and development. Furthermore, the effects of specific covariates on measures of antisocial behavior did not appear to differ across twin status. In sum, evidence concerning the etiology of antisocial behavior (e.g., heritability estimates) gleaned from twin-based research is likely to generalize to the non-twin population.


Twin research Assumptions Limitations Generalizability External validity