Behavioral genetics and child temperament

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2005 Jun;26(3):214-23. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200506000-00010.


Most temperament theories presume a biological basis to those behavioral tendencies thought to be temperamental in origin. Behavioral genetic methods can be used to test this assumption. Twin and adoption studies suggest that individual differences in infant and child temperament are genetically influenced. However, behavioral genetics has much more to offer to the study of temperament than simple heritability estimates. The present paper describes some recent findings from behavioral genetics research in temperament that go well beyond the basic nature-nurture question. These findings include the importance of nonshared environmental influences on temperament, genetic continuity and environmental change during development, links between temperament and behavior problems, and harnessing the power of molecular genetics to identify specific genes responsible for genetic influence on early temperament.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Infant
  • Personality / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Research
  • Social Environment
  • Temperament*
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Twins / genetics
  • Twins / psychology