The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Behavioural Genetics

  • William T. Dickens
Reference work entry


The study of how variation in genetic endowment affects behaviour has shown that a surprisingly wide range of human activities are subject to substantial genetic influence. Studies of the covariance of traits in more and less distant relatives that take into account the impact of family environment have been the main method used to demonstrate this. This article provides a brief introduction to the mechanisms of heredity, and then a discussion of the methods used by behavioural geneticists and their limitations. Both the traditional variance decomposition methods and the newer molecular genetic methods are described and discussed.


Adoption studies Behavioural genetics Chopstick problem Cognitive ability Environment vs heredity Evolutionary psychology Genome Heredity Heritability Linkage studies Twin studies 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. Dickens
    • 1
  1. 1.