Heritability: uses and abuses

Abstract

This paper begins with a brief summary of the history of the development of ideas in the field of quantitative genetics. Next there is discussion of the controversy surrounding the contention that IQ tests validly estimate some highly heritable general intelligence factor. The validity of the reasoning supporting this contention is questioned. The theory of correlation between relatives has been of vast importance in plant and animal breeding because it is possible to design and carry out experiments to estimate variance components in expressions for covariances between relatives. However, data on humans is observational and individuals are not randomly assigned to environments, so that estimation of heritability from such data is not on the same firm foundation as it is in plant and animal breeding contexts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Burt, C. & M. Howard, 1956. The multifactorial theory of inheritance and its application to intelligence. British Journal of Statistical Psychology 9: 95–131.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Cockerham, C.C., 1954. An extension of the concept of partitioning hereditary variance for analysis of covariance between relatives when epistasis is present. Genetics 39: 859–882.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Crow, J.F., 1969. Genetic theories and influences: Comments on the value of diversity. Harvard Educational Review 39: 301–309.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Fisher, R.A., 1914. Some hopes of a eugenist. Eugenics Review 5: 309–315. (Read before the Eugenics Education Society in late 1913.)

    Google Scholar 

  5. Fisher, R.A., 1918. The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 52: 399–433.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Galton, F., 1869. Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences. Macmillan, London.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Jensen, A.R., 1969. How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review 39: 1–123.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Jensen, A.R., 1980. Bias in mental testing. Free Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kempthorne, O., 1954. The correlation between relatives in a random mating population. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 143: 103–113.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kempthorne, O., 1978. Logical, epistemological and statistical aspects of nature-nurture data interpretation. Biometrics 34: 1–23. (A Biometrics invited paper)

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Kempthorne, O. & R.H. Osborne, 1961. The interpretation of twin data. Amer. J. Human Genetics 13: 320–339.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kempthorne, O. & L. Wolins, 1982. Testing reveals a big social problem. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5(2): 327–336.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Kevles, D.J., 1985. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Pearson, R., 1992. Shockley on eugenics and race: The application of science to the solution of human problems. Scott-Townsend Publishers, Washington, D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Provine, Wm.B., 1971. The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Wright, S., 1921. Correlation and causation. Journal of Agrcultural Research 20: 557–585.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kempthorne, O. Heritability: uses and abuses. Genetica 99, 109–112 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02259514

Download citation

Key words

  • heritability
  • intelligence testing
  • observational studies