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A multivariate genetic analysis of sensation seeking


The genetic architecture of sensation seeking was analyzed in 1591 adolescent twin pairs. Individual differences in sensation seeking were best explained by a simple additive genetic model. Between 48 and 63% of the total variance in sensation seeking subscales was attributable to genetic factors. There were no sex differences in the magnitude of the genetic and environmental effects. The different dimensions of sensation seeking were moderately correlated. The strongest correlations were between the subscales Thrill and Adventure Seeking and Experience Seeking (r=0.4) and between Boredom Susceptibility and Disinhibition (r=0.4 in males,r=0.5 in females). A triangular decomposition showed that the correlations between the sensation seeking subscales were induced mainly by correlated genetic factors and, to a smaller extent, by correlated unique environmental factors. The genetic and environmental correlation structures differed between males and females. For females, higher genetic correlations for Experience Seeking with Boredom Susceptibility and Disinhibition and higher correlations among the unique environmental factors were found. There was no evidence that sex-specific genes influenced sensation seeking behavior in males and females.

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Koopmans, J.R., Boomsma, D.I., Heath, A.C. et al. A multivariate genetic analysis of sensation seeking. Behav Genet 25, 349–356 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02197284

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Key words

  • Sensation seeking
  • adolescent twins
  • multivariate genetic analysis