Behavior Genetics

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 221–246 | Cite as

Phenotypic and Behavioral Genetic Covariation Between Elemental Cognitive Components and Scholastic Measures

  • Dasen Luo
  • Lee Anne Thompson
  • Douglas K. Detterman


The study subjected nine elementary cognitive task variables from the Cognitive Assessment Tasks (CAT) and three scholastic measures from the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT) to phenotypic and behavioral genetic structural equation modeling based on data for 277 pairs of same sex monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from the Western Reserve Twin Project. Phenotypic and behavioral genetic covariation between certain elemental cognitive components and scholastic performance was examined to determine (a) whether these elemental cognitive components contribute substantially to the variance of scholastic performance; (b) whether such contributions vary across different domains of school knowledge or from specific domains to a general aptitude; (c) the behavioral genetic composition of the elemental cognitive components and the scholastic variables; and (d) how the association between the cognitive components and scholastic performance is genetically and environmentally mediated. The results of the study showed that as much as 30% of the phenotypic variance of scholastic performance was accounted for by the CAT general factor, which was presumably related to mental speed. A mainly genetic covariation was found between the mental speed component and scholastic performance, although each of the two variables was strongly influenced by both heritability and common family environment. The magnitude and etiology of the covariation were largely invariant whether mental speed was related to a common scholastic aptitude or to individual achievement measures covering different knowledge domains. Taken in conjunction with previous findings that mental speed has a substantial genetic correlation with psychometric g, and psychometric g has a mostly genetic covariation with scholastic achievement, the findings of the present study seems to point to a more global picture; namely, there is a causal sequence that starts from mental speed as the explanatory factor for both psychometric g and scholastic performance, and the etiology of the causal link is chiefly genetic.

Behavioral genetic mediation twins scholastic performance elementary cognitive tasks mental speed structural equation modeling intelligence 


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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dasen Luo
  • Lee Anne Thompson
  • Douglas K. Detterman

There are no affiliations available

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