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    A parent’s genes can influence a child’s educational success, inherited or not



    Summary: A child’s educational success depends on the genes that they haven’t inherited from their parents, as well as the genes they have, according to a new study.

    Source: University College London.

    Success in school is influenced by both the parent genes that a child directly inherited and the uninherited genes.


    The study’s findings suggest that a person’s ability to succeed in school is probably directly influenced by genes they inherit. Parent genes that aren’t directly inherited, but have shaped parents’ own education levels and later it has influenced the lifestyle and family environment they provide for their children, are equally important and can influence how well a person does at school and beyond.

    Children resemble their parents because of the genes they inherit from their parents (nature) and the surroundings they grow in(nurture). However, there are some mixed results from nature and nurture.

    For the current study, researchers reviewed and analysed 12 studies from different countries and applied a method called polygenic scoring to investigate the influence of millions of genetic variants on educational achievements in nearly 40,000 parent and child pairs.

    The researchers found that genetic nurture had roughly half as much influence on educational accomplishments as genetic inheritance.

    Genetic nurture effects recorded by polygenic scores in the studies explained at least 1.28% of dissimilarity in educational outcomes. At least 2.89% of the variation in educational outcomes could be directly attributed to genetic influences.

    The researchers say the results are underestimated given that polygenic scores only record a fraction of heritability in educational outcomes. The actual genetic effects could be multiple times higher, but direct genetic effects would probably still be around double those of genetic nurture effects.

    Published: University College London.

    Contact: Biyao Wang, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London.

    Details: Image source IStock


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