Dopamine Receptor D2 Polymorphism Moderates the Effect of Parental Education on Adolescents’ School Performance


Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen. Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; e-mail:


ABSTRACT— High parental socioeconomic status is known to have a positive effect on students’ academic achievement. We examined whether variation in the dopamine receptor gene (DRD2 polymorphism, rs 1800497) modifies the association between parental educational level and school performance in adolescence. The participants were a randomly selected subsample of individuals participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study (921 girls and 742 boys) aged 12–15 years at the time school performance was assessed. The genotyping was performed using TaqMan 5′'-nuclease assay. A significant interaction was found between childhood parental educational level and students’ DRD2 polymorphism on academic achievement after adjustment for age, gender, household income, parental occupation, maternal nurturance, hyperactivity, and sociability. Parental educational level was significantly positively associated with school achievement in the A2/A2 (n = 1,061) and the A1/A2 (n = 529) genotype groups, but was negative and statistically insignificant in participants carrying the A1/A1 (n = 73) genotype. It is concluded that the extent to which parental education status affects an individual’s academic achievement may be dependent on the individual’s genetic constitution. The findings may increase an acceptance of genetic influence in education, and, consequently, may increase accurateness of educational interventions.