On the nature and nurture of intelligence and specific cognitive abilities: The more heritable, the more culture dependent

K.J. Kan, J.M. Wicherts, C. Dolan, H.L.J. van der Maas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To further knowledge concerning the nature and nurture of intelligence, we scrutinized how heritability coefficients vary across specific cognitive abilities both theoretically and empirically. Data from 23 twin studies (combined N = 7,852) showed that (a) in adult samples, culture-loaded subtests tend to demonstrate greater heritability coefficients than do culture-reduced subtests; and (b) in samples of both adults and children, a subtest’s proportion of variance shared with general intelligence is a function of its cultural load. These findings require an explanation because they do not follow from mainstream theories of intelligence. The findings are consistent with our hypothesis that heritability coefficients differ across cognitive abilities as a result of differences in the contribution of genotype-environment covariance. The counterintuitive finding that the most heritable abilities are the most culture-dependent abilities sheds a new light on the long-standing nature-nurture debate of intelligence.
Keywords: intelligence, behavior genetics, cognitive ability, environmental effects, individual differences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2420-2428
JournalPsychological Science
Volume24
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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