Behavior Genetics

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 667–670 | Cite as

The Intraclass Covariance Matrix


Introduced by C.R. Rao in 1945, the intraclass covariance matrix has seen little use in behavioral genetic research, despite the fact that it was developed to deal with family data. Here, I reintroduce this matrix, and outline its estimation and basic properties for data sets on pairs of relatives. The intraclass covariance matrix is appropriate whenever the research design or mathematical model treats the ordering of the members of a pair as random. Because the matrix has only one estimate of a population variance and covariance, both the observed matrix and the residual matrix from a fitted model are easy to inspect visually; there is no need to mentally average homologous statistics. Fitting a model to the intraclass matrix also gives the same log likelihood, likelihood-ratio (LR) χ2, and parameter estimates as fitting that model to the raw data. A major advantage of the intraclass matrix is that only two factors influence the LR χ2—the sampling error in estimating population parameters and the discrepancy between the model and the observed statistics. The more frequently used interclass covariance matrix adds a third factor to the χ2—sampling error of homologous statistics. Because of this, the degrees of freedom for fitting models to an intraclass matrix differ from fitting that model to an interclass matrix. Future research is needed to establish differences in power—if any—between the interclass and the intraclass matrix.


Twins Sib-Pairs linear models covariance matrix correlation matrix interclass covariance intraclass covariance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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