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Does intelligence have a stronger genetic or environmental basis?

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Paul B.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the empirical findings of research pointing to a genetic or environmental basis of intelligence
  3. Twin and Adoption studies and predictions to be made regarding the environmental contributions in acquired intelligence
  4. Empirical research within the behavioral genetics
  5. Twin designs: The most reliable estimate of the genetic component of intelligence
  6. Large-scale studies of adoptees: Texas, Minnesota and Colorado
  7. The conclusion that shared environment has a greater influence on environmental variation
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

In light of the pioneering nature of behavioral genetics and in terms of explanatory power and predictive ability, highlighting constructive directions for future research, the aim of the current essay is to examine a wealth of evidence within the field of behavioral genetics to provide a well-versed argument for both environmental and genetic influences on the development of intellectual abilities. In line with behavioral genetic theory, it is possible to systematically test the degree to which variability is the result of genetic or non-genetic individual differences (Loehlin, Horn & Willerman, 1989., Plomin & Daniels, 1987). By examining the relevant research therefore, it should be possible to determine the extent to which environmental or genetic influences provide the most adequate explanation for a basis of intelligence. In order to understand the empirical findings of research pointing to a genetic or environmental basis of intelligence it is first necessary to briefly identify the basic aims and methods used in the study of behavioral genetics.

[...] Whether this portion of variance has a stronger shared or non-shared environmental influence is slightly less abated however. Typically findings of adoption research yield an estimate of 30 per cent of the variance attributable to the environment shared between parents, offspring and siblings (Loehlin et al Scarr & Weinberg c.f. Plomin & Daniels Scarr Wilson, 1983). In understanding the literature, it was noted that studies of twins reared together provided the most direct estimate of non-shared environment. Findings of such studies (Bouchard et al., 1990a Thompson c.f. [...]


[...] Jr., (1997). IQ similarity in twins reared apart: Findings and responses to critics. In R. J. Sternberg & E. Grigorenko (1997) Intelligence; Heredity and Environment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cooper, C. (1999). Intelligence and abilities. London: Routledge. Eysenck, H. J., & Fulkner, D. W. (1983). The components of type A behavior and its genetic determinants. Personality and Individual differences 499-505. Hernstein, R. J., & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press. [...]


[...] Advances in the psychology of human intelligence (Vol. 4). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Plomin, R., & Daniels, D. (1987). Why are children in the same family so different from one another? Brain & Behavioral Sciences 1-60. Plomin, R., Loehlin, J.C., & Defries, J.C. (1985). Genetic and environmental components of ?environmental? influences. Developmental Psychology 391-402. Scarr, S., & Weinberg, R. A. (1983). The Minnesota adoption studies: Genetic differences and malleability. Child Development 260-267. Scarr, S. (1997). Behavior-Genetic and Socialization theories of intelligence: Truce or reconciliation. In R. [...]

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