Genetic and environmental influences on girls' and boys' gender-typed and gender-neutral values

Dev Psychol. 2011 May;47(3):726-31. doi: 10.1037/a0021910.


In this first investigation of genetic and environmental influences on children's values, 271 German twin pairs (50.2% boys) reported their values at ages 7-11 years using the Portrait Values Questionnaire (Schwartz & Rubel, 2005). We distinguished between gender-neutral (conservation vs. openness to change) and gender-typed (self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement) values. Boys differed from girls in the importance given to gender-typed benevolence, achievement, and power values. Gender-neutral values showed moderate (.34) and gender-typed values showed higher (.49) heritability, with nonshared environment and error accounting for the remaining variance. For both sexes, substantial genetic effects accounted for the importance children gave to their respective gender-stereotypical end of the self-transcendence versus self-enhancement dimension. However, dramatic sex differences emerged in the gender-atypical end of the distribution. For girls, low self-transcendence (high gender-atypical values) showed a large (.76) group heritability. For boys, gender-atypical values (high self-transcendence) showed no heritability and a modest (.10) shared environment effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Environment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Twins / genetics*
  • Twins / psychology*