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It is reasonable to expect that genetic influences on traits like IQ should become less important as one gains experiences with age. Surprisingly, the opposite occurs. Heritability measures in infancy are as low as 20%, around 40% in middle childhood, and as high as 80% in adulthood.

Shared family effects also seem to disappear by adulthood. Adoption studies show that, after adolescence, adopted siblings are no more similar in IQ than strangers (IQ correlation near zero), while full siblings show an IQ correlation of 0.6. Twin studies reinforce this pattern: monozygotic (identical) twins raised separately are highly similar in IQ (0.86), more so than dizygotic (fraternal) twins raised together (0.6) and much more than adopted siblings (~0.0).

Most of the IQ studies described above were conducted in developed countries, such as the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. Also, a few studies have been conducted in Moscow, East Germany, and India, and those studies produce similar results. Any such investigation is limited to describing the genetic and environmental variation found within the populations studied. This is a caveat of any heritability study.

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2012 Robert Artmann | Psychologist