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Rethinking twins and environments: possible social sources for assumed genetic influences in twin research.
J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Jun; 44(2):111-29.JH

Abstract

A central sociological problem is the extent to which genetics and the environment influence human behavior. Studies of twins are a core method in attempts to disentangle and to determine the comparative strength of genetic and environmental influences on psychosocial outcomes. A critical assumption of twin studies is that both monozygotic "identical" twins and dizygotic "fraternal" twins share common social environments. Therefore, any greater similarity of monozygotic than dizygotic twins is attributed to genetic influences. This paper tests the equal environment assumption by examining the extent to which greater concordance of adolescent monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins results from social, as well as genetic, influences. Bivariate comparisons indicate that monozygotic twins show greater similarity than dizygotic twins in socially-based characteristics including physical attractiveness, time spent in each other's company, the overlap in friendship networks, and friends' use of alcohol. Multivariate analyses indicate that measures of the social environment sometimes reduce or eliminate apparent genetic effects. In comparison with genetic indicators, social variables are usually stronger predictors of depression and alcohol use and abuse. These findings suggest that past twin studies could overstate the strength of genetic influences because some similarities in behavior among monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins stem from social influences.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, 30 College Ave., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901-1293, USA. avhorw@rci.rutgers.eduNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

Language

eng

PubMed ID

12866384

Citation

Horwitz, Allan V., et al. "Rethinking Twins and Environments: Possible Social Sources for Assumed Genetic Influences in Twin Research." Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 44, no. 2, 2003, pp. 111-29.
Horwitz AV, Videon TM, Schmitz MF, et al. Rethinking twins and environments: possible social sources for assumed genetic influences in twin research. J Health Soc Behav. 2003;44(2):111-29.
Horwitz, A. V., Videon, T. M., Schmitz, M. F., & Davis, D. (2003). Rethinking twins and environments: possible social sources for assumed genetic influences in twin research. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 44(2), 111-29.
Horwitz AV, et al. Rethinking Twins and Environments: Possible Social Sources for Assumed Genetic Influences in Twin Research. J Health Soc Behav. 2003;44(2):111-29. PubMed PMID: 12866384.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Rethinking twins and environments: possible social sources for assumed genetic influences in twin research. AU - Horwitz,Allan V, AU - Videon,Tami M, AU - Schmitz,Mark F, AU - Davis,Diane, PY - 2003/7/18/pubmed PY - 2003/8/9/medline PY - 2003/7/18/entrez SP - 111 EP - 29 JF - Journal of health and social behavior JO - J Health Soc Behav VL - 44 IS - 2 N2 - A central sociological problem is the extent to which genetics and the environment influence human behavior. Studies of twins are a core method in attempts to disentangle and to determine the comparative strength of genetic and environmental influences on psychosocial outcomes. A critical assumption of twin studies is that both monozygotic "identical" twins and dizygotic "fraternal" twins share common social environments. Therefore, any greater similarity of monozygotic than dizygotic twins is attributed to genetic influences. This paper tests the equal environment assumption by examining the extent to which greater concordance of adolescent monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins results from social, as well as genetic, influences. Bivariate comparisons indicate that monozygotic twins show greater similarity than dizygotic twins in socially-based characteristics including physical attractiveness, time spent in each other's company, the overlap in friendship networks, and friends' use of alcohol. Multivariate analyses indicate that measures of the social environment sometimes reduce or eliminate apparent genetic effects. In comparison with genetic indicators, social variables are usually stronger predictors of depression and alcohol use and abuse. These findings suggest that past twin studies could overstate the strength of genetic influences because some similarities in behavior among monozygotic compared to dizygotic twins stem from social influences. SN - 0022-1465 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/12866384/Rethinking_twins_and_environments:_possible_social_sources_for_assumed_genetic_influences_in_twin_research_ DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -