The Extended Genotype: The Heritability of Personality Accounts for the Heritability of Recalled Family Environments in Twins Reared Apart


  • Data collection for this project was supported by contributions of the Pioneer Fund, the Koch Charitable Foundation, and the Seaver Institute to the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.

concerning this article should be addressed to Robert F. Krueger, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, N414 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0344. Electronic mail may be sent to


Abstract How are retrospective accounts of family rearing environments linked to adult personality? We addressed this question by measuring both domains in a sample of 180 reared-apart twins. Twins completed extensive measures of rearing environments (the Minnesota-Briggs History Record, the Block Environmental Questionnaire, the Family Environment Scale, and the Physical Facilities Questionnaire) and an omnibus measure of adult personality (the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire). Retrospective accounts of family environments were partially heritable and all the heritable variance in environmental measures could be accounted for by heritable variance in personality. In addition, differences between twins in their accounts of their rearing environments (nonshared environmental factors) were not significantly linked to differences between twins in their personalities. Hence, family environmental measures appear to be heritable because personality genes influence the way people shape and recall their rearing environments. In addition, differences in reared-apart twins' retrospectively recalled rearing environments appear to have little impact on differences in their personalities in adulthood.