Intellectual Interest Mediates Gene × Socioeconomic Status Interaction on Adolescent Academic Achievement


  • Data were obtained from the Henry A. Murray Research Archive at Harvard University ( The Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin is supported by a center grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R24 HD042849). The original collectors of the data, the Murray Research Archive, and NICHD bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses. We thank John Loehlin for helpful comments on previous versions of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Elliot M. Tucker-Drob, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A8000, Austin, TX 78712-0187. Electronic mail may be sent to


Recent studies have demonstrated that genetic influences on cognitive ability and academic achievement are larger for children raised in higher socioeconomic status (SES) homes. However, little work has been done to document the psychosocial processes that underlie this Gene × Environment interaction. One process may involve the conversion of intellectual interest into academic achievement. Analyses of data from 777 pairs of 17-year-old twins indicated that Gene × SES effects on achievement scores can be accounted for by stronger influences of genes for intellectual interest on achievement at higher levels of SES. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that higher SES affords greater opportunity for children to seek out and benefit from learning experiences that are congruent with their genetically influenced intellectual interests.