Human Behavior Genetics

  • Barton Childs
  • Joan M. Finucci
  • Malcolm S. Preston
  • Ann E. Pulver
Part of the Advances in Human Genetics book series (AHUG, volume 7)


The conditions described by Penrose prevail in other fields of behavior as well as in psychiatry, and to them he might have added unfamiliarity, since it is evident that behavioral science has thrived without benefit of Still, a field of behavior genetics exists, cultivated mainly by animal geneticists and psychologists and psychiatrists, in which genetic studies of human behavior have been done.26, 31, 48 These interests led, a few years ago, to the formation of a Behavior Genetics Association and to a journal called Behavior Genetics which publishes observations derived from studies of both animals and human beings. A look at the papers in this and related journals reveals that although the animal geneticists are able to work in part with characters that segregate and may thus be associated rather directly with the products of single genes, most of the human work is biometrical. This is because most of the phenotypes under study, while measurable, do not segregate. Other phenotypes, such as the psychoses, which, because they represent abnormality, seem more likely candidates for Mendelian analysis, are even more difficult to analyze because they are neither measurable nor definable in terms upon which all would agree.87,88 These obstacles to precise genetic definition will be reflected in this review, which will consist of a survey of a field more potential than actual. This is not a denigration of the work of the behavior geneticists, but on the contrary, simply underlines the difficulty of the questions they confront and the obdurate resistance of those questions to easy answers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barton Childs
    • 1
  • Joan M. Finucci
    • 1
  • Malcolm S. Preston
    • 1
  • Ann E. Pulver
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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