Behavior Genetics

, 35:707 | Cite as

Widespread Evidence for Non-Additive Genetic Variation in Cloninger’s and Eysenck’s Personality Dimensions using a Twin Plus Sibling Design

  • Matthew C. KellerEmail author
  • William L. Coventry
  • Andrew C. Heath
  • Nicholas G. Martin


Studies using the classical twin design often conclude that most genetic variation underlying personality is additive in nature. However, studies analyzing only twins are very limited in their ability to detect non-additive genetic variation and are unable to detect sources of variation unique to twins, which can mask non-additive genetic variation. The current study assessed 9672 MZ and DZ twin individuals and 3241 of their siblings to investigate the environmental and genetic architecture underlying eight dimensions of personality: four from Eysenck’s Personality Questionnaire and four from Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory. Broad-sense heritability estimates from best-fitting models were two to three times greater than the narrow-sense heritability estimates for Harm Avoidance, Novelty Seeking, Reward Dependence, Persistence, Extraversion, and Neuroticism. This genetic non-additivity could be due to dominance, additive-by-additive epistasis, or to additive genetic effects combined with higher-order epistasis. Environmental effects unique to twins were detected for both Lie and Psychoticism but accounted for little overall variation. Our results illustrate the increased sensitivity afforded by extending the classical twin design to include siblings, and may provide clues to the evolutionary origins of genetic variation underlying personality.


Behavior genetics dominance epistasis non-additive genetic variation personality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew C. Keller
    • 1
    Email author
  • William L. Coventry
    • 2
  • Andrew C. Heath
    • 3
  • Nicholas G. Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Society and Genetics (UCLA)University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Queensland Institute of Medical ResearchBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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