- On the Nature and Nurture of Intelligence and Specific Cognitive Abilities: The More Heritable, the More Culture Dependent
- Psychological Science
- Volume | Issue number
- 24 | 12
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
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.
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