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The Innate Mind, Volume 3Foundations and the Future$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332834

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332834.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2022

Genes and Human Psychological Traits

Genes and Human Psychological Traits

5 Genes and Human Psychological Traits
The Innate Mind, Volume 3

Thomas J. Jr. Bouchard

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that genetic variation is an important feature of virtually every human psychological trait and must be taken into account in any comprehensive explanation (theory) of human behaviour. It begins by discussing the mistaken but widely held belief that ‘genetic variance’ is an indicator of the biological or evolutionary unimportance of a trait. It then turns to the role of quantitative genetic methods in modern biology. Application of these methods across a very large number of quantitative characteristics of an equally large number of species leads to the conclusion that almost all quantitative characters are heritable. This truism is illustrated for the major domains of normal human individual differences: mental ability, personality, psychological interests, and social attitudes. It is shown that compared with effects in social psychology, ecology, and evolution, as well as psychological assessment and treatment, known quantitative genetic influence on human psychological traits should be considered large in magnitude. The argument that ‘ there are no genes for behaviour’ is refuted using ‘clockwork’genes as an example. Using the example of corn oil, it is also shown the fact that finding genes for a quantitative character can be very difficult. The chapter concludes by pointing out that molecular genetics will not replace quantitative genetics; rather, the two levels of analysis will fit together seamlessly.

Keywords:   genetic variation, human behaviour, clockwork genes, corn oil, molecular genetics, quantitative genetics, human intelligence, personality, psychological interests, social attitudes

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