, Volume 99, Issue 2–3, pp 109–112 | Cite as

Heritability: uses and abuses

  • Oscar Kempthorne


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.

heritability intelligence testing observational studies 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oscar Kempthorne
    • 1
  1. 1.Statistical Laboratory and Department of StatisticsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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