Rotten, stale, fresh: three flavors of heritability

Contributors:
  1. Michael Liebrenz

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Description: The concept of heritability in behavioral genetics is different from the more standard concept used in biology. The former is a statistical measure of the proportion of genetic variance relative to the total phenotypic variance of a trait in a population, the latter refers to the transmission of phenotypic traits across generations via the transmission of an underlying causal substrate (genes). It will be argued that the behavioral-genetic concept is a generally useless quantity, while the standard biological concept is overly narrow and implies a false picture of the significance of genes in development. By suitably expanding standard heritability into a general causal concept based on its role in evolution, we will arrive at a general view of development that recognizes the causal parity of all determinants of phenotypic traits and shows why the behavioral genetic dichotomy of genes vs environment is fundamentally misguided. Some implications for criminology and the social sciences will be addressed.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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