It has long been a subject of debate: are human traits determined by nurture or nature? Now, a team of researchers has investigated whether our genes or the environment, where we have been raised in, influences who we are.
For the study published in the journal Nature Genetics on May 18, Danielle Posthuma, from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and colleagues looked at nearly every study on twins that has been conducted in the past 50 years.
They surveyed over 2,700 studies on twins to look at over 17,000 traits, comparing variations in identical twins, who share all their genes, and also the differences between fraternal twins, who share half their genes.
The researchers in particular looked at physical traits such as metabolism, height and weight as well as psychological traits, which include intelligence, personality, temperament and likelihood to suffer from depression.
They found that 49 percent of the average variation for human diseases and traits can be attributed to genetics. Fifty-one percent, on the other hand, can be attributed to environmental factors. They likewise found that about two-thirds of the traits are the result of the cumulative effect of many genes.
“Estimates of heritability cluster [register] strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49 percent,” reported the researchers. “For a majority (69 percent) of traits, the observed twin correlations are consistent with a simple and parsimonious model where twin resemblance is solely due to additive genetic variation.
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