Behavior Genetics

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 57–72 | Cite as

Life Events as Environmental States and Genetic Traits and the Role of Personality: A Longitudinal Twin Study

  • Christian Kandler
  • Wiebke Bleidorn
  • Rainer Riemann
  • Alois Angleitner
  • Frank M. Spinath
Original Research


The occurrence of many life events is not entirely random but genetically influenced. The current study examined the sources underlying the stability or recurrence of life events and the developmental interplay between personality traits and life events. In a longitudinal study of 338 adult twin pairs we estimated (1) the genetic and environmental sources of continuity in aggregates of life events, (2) the sources through which personality influences the experience of life events, and (3) the sources through which life events influence personality. Unlike personality which showed both genetic and environmental influences on substantial continuity over time, stability of life events was moderate and mainly influenced by genetic factors. Significant associations between personality and life events were specific to certain personality traits and qualitative aspects of life events (controllable positive, controllable negative, and less controllable negative), primarily directional from personality to life events, and basically genetically mediated. Controlled for these genetic associations, we also found some small and basically environmentally mediated effects of life events on personality traits. The results support the concept of genotype–environment correlation as a propulsive mechanism of development.


Twin study Life events Personality traits Continuity Genotype–environment correlation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Kandler
    • 1
  • Wiebke Bleidorn
    • 1
  • Rainer Riemann
    • 1
  • Alois Angleitner
    • 1
  • Frank M. Spinath
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

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