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Separated Twins and the Genetics of Personality Differences: A Critique

Jay Joseph
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 114, No. 1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 1-30
DOI: 10.2307/1423378
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1423378
Page Count: 30
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Separated Twins and the Genetics of Personality Differences: A Critique
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Abstract

This article discusses studies of separated twins, with special emphasis on the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart (MISTRA), to determine whether they support the existence of an important genetic component in behavioral and personality differences. The methods and conclusions of the MISTRA team are discussed in the context of earlier studies of separated identical twins. I argue that volunteer-based studies are biased toward greater twin similarity. In addition, the MISTRA research team did not publish or share raw data and case history information. Reared-together and reared-apart monozygotic twins share important environmental similarities not controlled for by comparing personality correlations. I propose an alternative control group consisting of biologically unrelated pairs of strangers matched on all environmental factors common to pairs of separated monozygotic twins. I conclude that the evidence from studies of twins reared apart does not support the role of genetic factors in personality and behavioral differences.

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