Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Calculating the Contributions of Genetic and Environmental Factors

Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Calculating the Contributions of Genetic and Environmental Factors

Article excerpt

Scientists have developed several mathematical models to determine the contribution of genetic factors (i.e., heritability). shared environmental factors, and nonshared environmental factors to a given behavior based on the concordance of this behavior in identical (i.e., monozygotic [MZ]) and fraternal (i.e., dizygotic [DZ) twins. These formulas rely on previously determined correlation coefficients, which are numerical ways of describing the relation of the behavior under study to the environmental or genetic factors hypothesized to underlie that behavior. A correlation coefficient of 1 describes a perfect positive correlation (e.g., the presence of a particular gene means that a particular behavior, such as problem drinking, will almost certainly be seen in the subject). A correlation of 0 means that no relationship exists between the hypothesized causal factor and the behavior, and a correlation of -I means that the presence of the environmental or genetic factor almost certainly indicates the absence of the behavior (i.e., a perfect negative correlation).

In the simplest model, heritability is estimated as twice the difference between the correlation coefficient for the relation of genetic factors to alcoholism in MZ twins and the correlation in DZ twins (i. …

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