Genetics of biologically based psychological differences

Hannah Sallis*, George Davey Smith, Marcus R. Munafò

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
304 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, substantial effort has gone into disentangling the genetic contribution to individual differences in behaviour (such as personality and temperament traits). Heritability estimates from twin and family studies, and more recently using whole genome approaches, suggest a substantial genetic component to these traits. However, efforts to identify the genes that influence these traits have had relatively little success. Here, we review current work investigating the heritability of individual differences in behavioural traits and provide an overview of the results from genome-wide association analyses of these traits to date. In addition, we discuss the implications of these findings for the potential applications of Mendelian randomization. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Diverse perspectives on diversity: multi-disciplinary approaches to taxonomies of individual differences’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170162
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1744
Early online date26 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2018

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Tobacco and Alcohol
  • Physical and Mental Health


  • Behavioural traits
  • GWAS
  • Heritability
  • Mendelian randomization
  • Personality
  • Temperament


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