Personality and the inheritance of smoking behavior: a genetic perspective

Behav Genet. 1995 Mar;25(2):103-17. doi: 10.1007/BF02196921.


In contrast to the extensive research effort to understand the genetic contribution to alcoholism risk, there has been little research directed at understanding genetic influences on smoking behavior. Data from large twin studies in Scandinavia and Australia are consistent with a major genetic influence on the probability that an individual will become a smoker ("initiation") and will persist in the smoking habit once smoking has started ("persistence"). We use data from the 1988/1989 follow-up survey of the Australian NH&MRC twin panel to determine to what degree personality measures (Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire--Revised) and attitudinal and sociodemographic variables (social and political conservatism, education, religious involvement) might account for genetic or environmental influences on smoking. While we find significant phenotypic associations between these variables and smoking, these are too modest to account for much of the genetic variance. Possible mechanisms by which this genetic variance may arise are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Attitude to Health
  • Australia
  • Codependency, Psychological
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personality / genetics*
  • Personality Tests
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / genetics*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires