Who is best at guessing the heritability of traits?

I found this preprint of a new study via both Stuart Ritchie and Wouter Duyck and it’s quite relevant. Besides some people who still are convinced nurture is almost everything – I’m looking at you, Anders – most of us have experienced that some traits are heritable. But how well are we in guessing this correctly? Well, women with multiply kids are best at it, which seems not so strange to me:

Explanation about the graph:

Comparison of absolute mean difference scores in accuracy of heritability judgments across surveyed human traits for men, women, and full sample for those without children, one child, and two or more children. These estimates represent the magnitude of distance between each participant’s judgment of heritability and the published estimate on a 0 (only environmental factors) to 1 (only genetic factors) scale. Lower mean distance (y-axis) therefore represents better judgment of heritability across all traits. Error bars represent +/- standard error of the mean.

And how did the people predict the different traits?

And this next graphic compares the average prediction with the actual average found in studies:

Abstract of the study by Emily Willoughby, Alan C Love, Matt McGue, Jack Quigley and James J Lee:

The fact that genes and environment contribute differentially to variation in human behaviors, traits and attitudes is central to the field of behavior genetics. To the public, perceptions about these differential contributions may affect ideas about human agency. We surveyed two independent samples (N = 301 and N = 740) to assess beliefs about free will, determinism, political orientation, and the relative contribution of genes and environment to 21 human traits. We find that beliefs about the heritability of these traits cluster into four distinct groups, which differentially predict both beliefs about human agency and political orientation. Despite apparent ideological influences on these beliefs, the correspondence between lay judgments of heritabilities and published estimates is large (r = .77). Belief in genetic determinism emerges as a modest predictor of accuracy in these judgments. Additionally, educated mothers with multiple children emerge as particularly accurate in their judgments of the heritabilities of these traits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.