Sociology Index


Heritability is the extent to which a characteristic of a living organism is genetically determined, rather than shaped by the surrounding environment. In the social sciences, the term heritability is mainly associated with debate about the heritability of characteristics such as intelligence, criminality, gender behavior, aggressiveness. Heritability means each of these characteristics is shaped most by biological inheritance or by the influence of environmental factors like culture, socialization and physical nutrition? Heritability is an important concept in quantitative genetics, particularly in selective breeding and behavior genetics.

Heritability may increase if genetic variation increases, like showing different levels of intelligence. Heritability might also increase if the environmental variation decreases, like showing more similar levels of intelligence. Heritability estimates the degree of variation in a phenotypic trait in a population that is due to genetic variation between individuals in that population. Wray N, Visscher P (2008). "Estimating Trait Heritability". Nature Education.

Heritability of Attitudes Constrains Dynamic Social Impact 
Martin J. Bourgeois, University of Wyoming.

Three studies tested the hypothesis that there are genetic constraints on group-level self-organization.

In Study 1, an analysis of archival data reported in Eaves, Eysenck, and Martin showed that large groups of monozygotic and dizygotic twins display greater group-level diversity of opinions on issues with higher heritabilities.

Results of Study 2 suggested that small groups discussing opinion issues that were higher in heritability showed less tendency toward consolidation.

Study 3 was a field study showing that students living in a campus housing complex showed less geographic clustering of attitudes on issues with a larger genetic component. Theoretical and practical implications of heritability constraints on dynamic social impact are discussed.

SCHOOLS AND THE HERITABILITY OF SMOKING BEHAVIORS: THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS. Abstract: We focus on schools as important social institutions that condition the magnitude of genetic influences on smoking behaviors. Specifically, we develop and test five hypotheses that examine gene-environment interactions using the sibling-pair data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We demonstrate significant variation in heritability across schools. We find that heritability is significantly reduced within schools characterized as having strong norms regarding smoking behaviors and within schools with limited resources.

Natalia S. Gavrilova, Leonid A. Gavrilov, Victoria G. Semyonova, Galina N. Evdokushkina.
Abstract: Familial resemblance in lifespan between children and parents was studied by many researchers for a century, but no attention has so far been paid to the possible effects of parental age at childbirth on familial transmission of longevity. In this study we have tested the hypothesis that familial resemblance between offspring and parental lifespan is higher for children born to younger parents, as expected both for genetic reasons and for cultural reasons.

The Heritability of Psychological Resiliency
Jason D. Boardman. Abstract: This paper examines the role of unobserved genetic factors as important determinants of psychological well-being among a national sample of U.S. adults. Using sibling and twin-pair data from the National Survey of Mid-Life Development in the U.S. This paper will examine the relative contribution of heritability to overall variance in psychological resiliency. Psychological resiliency is assessed as a function of adults’ levels of psychological distress after considering life-time exposure to acute and chronic stressors. Several studies have found resiliency to be a heritability trait but no studies have used data from a national sample and none have examined the moderating role of the social environment in this process.