Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Additive and Nonadditive Genetic Patterns

  • Elisabeth HahnEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1436-1


Additive and nonadditive genetic patterns are the subject of quantitative behavioral genetics, which focuses the relative importance of genetic variation on phenotypic variation.


An ongoing major challenge in the field of psychology and genetics is to understand how naturally occurring variation in the genotype causes variation in the phenotype. In the past century, genetic research consistently showed that genetic variation contributes substantially to individual differences in human behavior, which does not only apply to “proximal” characteristics and behavioral outcomes like height, health, cognitive ability, and personality but also includes more “distal” ones, such as education, demographic events, and indicators of social inequalities (e.g., Polderman et al. 2015; Turkheimer 2000). In other words, the role of genetic variation is ubiquitous, but less is known about the genetic architecture underlying phenotypic variation and the specific pathways from...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Boomsma, D. I., Busjahn, A., & Peltonen, L. (2002). Classical twin studies and beyond. Nature Reviews Genetics, 3, 872–882.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Coventry, W. L., & Keller, M. C. (2005). Estimating the extent of parameter bias in the classical twin design: A comparison of parameter estimates from extended twin-family and classical twin designs. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 8, 214–223.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Chen, X., Kuja-Halkola, R., Rahman, I., Arpegård, J., Viktorin, A., Karlsson, R., Hägg, S., Svensson, P., Pedersen, N. L., & Magnusson, P. K. (2015). Dominant genetic variation and missing heritability for human complex traits: Insights from twin versus genome-wide common SNP models. American Journal of Human Genetics, 97, 708–714.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Falconer, D. S., & Mackay, T. F. C. (1996). Introduction to quantitative genetics. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  5. Hahn, E., Spinath, F. M., Siedler, T., Wagner, G. G., Schupp, J., & Kandler, C. (2012). The Complexity of personality. Advantages of a genetically sensitive multi-group design. Behavior Genetics, 42(2), 221–233. doi: 10.1007/s10519-011-9493-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Hill, W. G., Goddard, M. E., & Visscher, P. M. (2008). Data and theory point to mainly additive genetic variance for complex traits. PLoS Genetics, 4, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Keller, M. C., Coventry, W. L., Heath, A. C., & Martin, N. G. (2005). Widespread evidence for non-additive genetic variation in Cloninger’s and Eysenck’s personality dimensions using a twin plus sibling design. Behavior Genetics, 35, 707–721.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Keller, M. C., Medland, S. E., & Duncan, L. E. (2010). Are extended twin family designs worth the trouble? A comparison of the bias, precision, and accuracy of parameters estimated in four twin family models. Behavior Genetics, 40, 377–393. doi: 10.1007/s10519-009-9320-x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Mackay, T. F. C. (2014). Epistasis and quantitative traits: Using model organisms to study gene–gene interactions. Nature Reviews Genetics, 15, 22–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Martin, N. G., Eaves, L. J., Kearsey, M. J., & Davies, P. (1978). The power of the classical twin study. Heredity, 28, 79–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Neale, M. C., & Maes, H. H. (2004). Methodology for genetic studies of twins and families. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Parra, E. J. (2007). Human pigmentation variation: Evolution, genetic basis, and implications for public health. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 134, 85–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., Knopik, V. S., & Neiderheiser, J. (2013). Behavioral genetics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Polderman, T. J. C., Benyamin, B., De Leeuw, C. A., Sullivan, P. F., Van Bochoven, A., Visscher, P. M., & Posthuma, D. (2015). Meta-analysis of heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies. Nature Genetics, 47, 702–709.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Posthuma, D., & Boomsma, D. I. (2000). A note on the statistical power in extended twin designs. Behavior Genetics, 30, 147–158.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Turkheimer, E. (2000). Three laws of behavior genetics and what they mean. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 106–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ilan Dar-Nimrod
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia