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Monozygotic twin differences in school performance are stable and systematic

von Stumm, Sophie and Plomin, Robert (2018) Monozygotic twin differences in school performance are stable and systematic. Developmental Science, 21 (6). e12694. ISSN 1363-755X

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Identification Number: 10.1111/desc.12694


School performance is one of the most stable and heritable psychological characteristics. Notwithstanding, monozygotic twins (MZ), who have identical genotypes, differ in school performance. These MZ differences result from non‐shared environments that do not contribute to the similarity within twin pairs. Because to date few non‐shared environmental factors have been reliably associated with MZ differences in school performance, they are thought to be idiosyncratic and due to chance, suggesting that the effect of non‐shared environments on MZ differences are age‐ and trait‐specific. In a sample of 2768 MZ twin pairs, we found first that MZ differences in school performance were moderately stable from age 12 through 16, with differences at the ages 12 and 14 accounting for 20% of the variance in MZ differences at age 16. Second, MZ differences in school performance correlated positively with MZ differences across 16 learning‐related variables, including measures of intelligence, personality and school attitudes, with the twin who scored higher on one also scoring higher on the other measures. Finally, MZ differences in the 16 learning‐related variables accounted for 22% of the variance in MZ differences in school performance at age 16. These findings suggest that, unlike for other psychological domains, non‐shared environmental factors affect school performance in systematic ways that have long‐term and generalist influence. Our findings should motivate the search for non‐shared environmental factors respon

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2018 15:48
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:40
Projects: MR/M021475/1, G0901245, AG046938, FP7/2007‐2013, 602768, 295366, G19/2
Funders: UK Medical Research Council, US National Institutes of Health, European Research Council, Jacobs Foundation Fellowship, Medical Research Council Professorship award

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