Analysis of genetic influences on the consistency and variability of the Big Five across different stressful situations



Several studies have demonstrated that individual differences in personality traits, known as the Big Five, have a genetic component. These personality traits are considered important predictors of everyday behaviour. In addition to personality traits there are also factors in the environment that govern behaviour. This dual influence on behaviour is statistically reflected in a P × S interaction. This study examines the genetic and environmental influences on the interactions between a person and his daily life environment for the Big Five. Fifty-seven identical twin pairs and 43 fraternal twin pairs participated in this study. Trait related behaviour was measured in 30 different situations with the aid of an SR inventory. The heritability coefficients for the main effect of P were in the normal range, varying between 0.35 for Agreeableness and 0.53 for Conscientiousness. The heritability coefficients for the P × S interactions were moderately high, explaining between 26% and 69% of the total P × S variance. The consequences of these results for general and behavioural genetic research on the Big Five will be discussed. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.