1 Genetics of Personality

Personality and Social Psychology


  1. Susan C. South PhD1,
  2. Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud MD, Dr. Med2,
  3. Nicholas R. Eaton MA3,
  4. Robert F. Krueger PhD4

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop205001

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

South, S. C., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Eaton, N. R. and Krueger, R. F. 2012. Genetics of Personality. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 5:I:1.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Purdue University, Department of Psychological Sciences, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

  2. 2

    University of Oslo, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

  3. 3

    University of Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center, Department of Psychology, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

  4. 4

    University of Minnesota, Department of Psychology, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


In the current chapter, we review major findings from the fields of quantitative behavior genetics and molecular genetic research of personality. Behavior genetic approaches, including biometric modeling with twin and adoption samples, were vitally important in demonstrating that the variation in personality in the population is due to both genetic and environmental sources. Indeed, the heritability of broad domains of personality is consistently 40% to 50%, across different samples, populations, ages, and gender, with the majority of the rest of variance in personality due to environmental influences that are unique to each individual. The relatively young field of molecular genetics aims to build on these findings by searching for the chromosomal regions associated with personality, variously defined. Both current biometric modeling and molecular genetic efforts are evolving to incorporate the vast complexity of personality development, including gene-gene interactions, gene-environment interplay, and the nature of changing etiological influences over the life span.


  • personality;
  • twins;
  • genes;
  • biometric;
  • molecular genetics;
  • environment