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Genetics versus environment


The role of genes and environment (nature vs. nurture) in determining IQ is reviewed in Plomin et al. (2001, 2003). The degree to which genetic variation contributes to observed variation in a trait is measured by a statistic called heritability. Heritability scores range from 0 to 1, and can be interpreted as the percentage of variation (e.g. in IQ) that is due to variation in genes. Twins studies and adoption studies are commonly used to determine the heritability of a trait. Until recently heritability was mostly studied in children. These studies find the heritability of IQ is approximately 0.5; that is, half of the variation in IQ among the children studied was due to variation in their genes. The remaining half was thus due to environmental variation and measurement error. A heritability of 0.5 implies that IQ is "substantially" heritable. Studies with adults show that they have a higher heritability of IQ than children do and that heritability could be as high as 0.8. The American Psychological Association's 1995 task force on "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns" concluded that within the White population the heritability of IQ is "around .75"
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2012 Robert Artmann | Psychologist