Behavior Genetics

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 438–446

Does Parental Education have a Moderating Effect on the Genetic and Environmental Influences of General Cognitive Ability in Early Adulthood?

  • Michael D. Grant
  • William S. Kremen
  • Kristen C. Jacobson
  • Carol Franz
  • Hong Xian
  • Seth A. Eisen
  • Rosemary Toomey
  • Ruth E. Murray
  • Michael J. Lyons


Hereditary influences account for a substantial proportion of the variance in many cognitive abilities. However, there is increasing recognition that the relative importance of genetic and environmental influences may vary across different socioeconomic levels. The overall goal of the present study was to examine whether parental education has a moderating effect on genetic and environmental influences of general cognitive ability in early adulthood (age 19.6 ± 1.5). Participants were 5,955 male twins from the Vietnam Era Twin (VET) Registry. Significant effects of parental education on mean level of general cognitive ability scores were found, but a model without moderating effects of parental education on genetic or environmental influences on cognitive scores proved to be the best fitting model. Some, but not all, previous studies have found significant moderating effects; however, no consistent pattern emerged that could account for between-study differences regarding moderating effects on genetic and environmental influences.


Cognitive ability Parental education Moderator Young adulthood Twin study Heritability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael D. Grant
    • 1
  • William S. Kremen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Kristen C. Jacobson
    • 4
  • Carol Franz
    • 2
  • Hong Xian
    • 5
  • Seth A. Eisen
    • 5
    • 6
  • Rosemary Toomey
    • 1
    • 7
  • Ruth E. Murray
    • 1
  • Michael J. Lyons
    • 1
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Center for Behavioral GenomicsUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.VA San Diego Healthcare SystemSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral NeuroscienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  5. 5.Department of Internal MedicineWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  8. 8.Harvard Institute of Psychiatric Epidemiology and GeneticsBostonUSA

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