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Altruism and Genetics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

J.P. Rushton*
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
D.W. Fulker
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
M.C. Neale
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
R.A. Blizard
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
H.J. Eysenck
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C2.


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Three questionnaires measuring altruistic tendencies were completed by 573 adult twin pairs from the University of London Institute of Psychiatry Volunteer Twin Register. The questionnaires consisted of a 20-item Self-Report Altruism Scale, a 33-item Empathy Scale, and a 16-item Nurturance Scale, all of which had previously been shown to have construct validity. For the three scales, the intra-class correlations for the 296 MZ pairs were 0.53, 0.54, and 0.49, and for the 179 same-sex DZ pairs were 0.25,020, and 0.14, giving rough estimates of broad heritability of 56%, 68%, and 72%, respectively. Maximum-likelihood model-fitting revealed about 50% of the variance on each scale to be associated with genetic effects, virtually 0% to be due to the twins' common environment, and the remaining 50% to be due to each twins' specific environment and/or error associated with the test.

Behavior Genetic Analysis
Copyright © The International Society for Twin Studies 1984



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