Divergence of dispersal regimens has been suggested to be the selective basis for the evolutionary differentiation of agonistic phenotypes found in natural populations of house mice. Dispersal propensity may, therefore, be expected to exhibit heritable variation in wild house mice, ultimately related to motivational differences causing observable differences in agonistic behaviour. To test for heritable components in dispersal propensity in wild house mice, father–offspring regressions of dispersal latencies from residential social groups were determined in standardized seminatural social settings. To evaluate potential motivational causes of phenotypic variation in dispersal behaviour, all test animals (fathers, sons, and daughters) were scored prior to the dispersal experiment in a standardized behavioural test, at 60 d of age. Activities were monitored in a 1 m2 square test arena during 10-min observation periods. Test arenas exhibited four equidistant openings leading to cages containing fresh, own, sibling, or foreign bedding material. The apparatus allowed for scoring anxiety, exploratory activity, and kin preference. Subsequently, test animals were exposed to a resident population in a semi-natural enclosure providing a dispersal opportunity. Father–son regressions of dispersal latencies were significantly positive, but no significant relationship was found for daughters. Dispersal latency decreased with increasing exploratory activity scores in males, but increased in females. Anxiety as well as kin preferences did not affect dispersal propensity. Hence sex-linked, motivational components reflect heritable social behaviour variation in male house mice that may ultimately be caused by diverging dispersal regimens.