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Behavioral Genetics

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Introduction to Behavioral Genetics

Behavioral genetics is the study of the impact of genes of an organism on its behavior. It studies if the genes of a human being will reflect on his behavior like habits, mannerism, gestures, posture, etc. Through the interaction of heredity and growing up in the family environment etc., may have a specific composition of behavior that reflects the influence of genes. 

Behaviour genetics is a branch of the study of psychology. Its other name is psychogenetics. This course had stated that abilities and disabilities must have an impact on nature and nurture. It is still a controversy.  Let's see what are genetics and behaviour in psychology with their definitions and methods.

Definition of Behavioral Genetics

Behavior genetics is a branch of study that evaluates the role of genetics in the behavior of living organisms, which often includes the nature vs. Nurture debate. It is the consolidated form of behavioral genetics definition. 

To explain them separately, the gene is a component of heredity, an element of DNA or RNA transferred from one generation to the next. They carry genetic information, particularly the sequence of amino acids for a protein. On the other hand, the physical and mental attributes of an organism or a human being are influenced by various factors. In simple words, we can say that the characteristics of a human being are influenced by nature and nurture.

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Origin of Genes and Behaviour

English scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911) had started studying genetics and human behavior. He was the first person who coined the term nature and nurture. Nature is the internal genetic attitude of a human being. Whereas nurture is the environment supported to develop the personality. He started researching the families of excellent individuals. And he stated that few similarities were found between Charles Darwin and his cousin. Galton also made researchers on the genetics of twins for the first time. According to behavior genetics psychology, twins have more identical genes, but the behavior may differ. He's the person who gave the several statistical methods which are still in use.

In the 19th century, a British statistician and geneticist, Ronald Aylmer Fisher, explained the laws of inheritance stated by Greger Mendal. Fisher also explained how to use and implement those laws to influence attributes by environmental factors and multiple genes. Human behavior genetics research started in 1920. Then year by year, the researchers were modernized and found that several genes have much impact on Behavior and the results in depression, hyperactivity, intelligence, personality, mental disorders, autism, etc. In the book of behavioral genetics, Plomin has explained various theories and models to understand and to get a keen knowledge of genetics and human behavior.


Genetics and behavior in psychology have different methods proposed by other scientists. Even though all the ways may explain various attributes of an individual, each technique has some unique features and helps identify the complex traits.

  • Initially, the quantitative methods in genes and behaviour help to calculate or evaluate the net effect of the influence of environmental and genetic factors. 

  • The following method is molecular behavior genetics. It helps to evaluate the genetic factors, and this method tries to find out if a special and unique gene belongs to that particular family or heredity. The study of molecular behavior genetics gives fruitful results in animals than in human beings.

  • The following method is selective breeding. It includes the identification of similar genes of various generations of a particular organism. It also helps to estimate the trait's high and low extremes.

  • Twin Method is an extract from the book of behaviour genetics. Plomin in his book proposed that the sharing of attributes may reflect in the behavior of different kinds of twins like identical, unidentical. Some genes may get injured, and the result may be reflected in both twins.

  • Another critical method is the adoption method. It is entirely in contrast to molecular behavior genetics. In this adoption method, a child is separated from his biological parents. So his behavior has been influenced by genes as well as environmental factors. This is the perfect example of nature and nurture impact.

These are the various methods available to explain the genes and behaviour of all organisms.


Hence the behaviour genetics is such a vast subject in which multiple variations and complex scenarios are available. The study of genes and behavior in psychology helps understand what genes are and how they relate to human behavior. The research can be done on various organisms, various kinds of people, different generations of a single individual, twins, etc.

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FAQs on Behavioral Genetics

Q1. What are Behavioral Traits?

Ans. Behavioral traits are the attributes exhibited by the actions of an individual which specify the attitude and character. We can say that these are similar actions observed in several individuals who see the same species. 

Some of the fundamental and positive behavioural traits which motivate the individual to move towards success are- 

  • Activities should inspire others

  • Always good to think strategically

  • One should be initiated in bringing change.

  • Learning lessons and rectifying mistakes from experience.

  • Demonstrating courage and controlling nervousness.

  • Being mindful and thoughtful.

  • Creativity extraordinarily exhibits an ordinary thing.

  • Building relationships with the team members, family members, colleagues, etc.

  • We recognize the potential of subordinates and all others.

  • We are communicating effectively and listening peacefully.

Q2. What is the Significance of Behavioral Genetics?

Ans. Behavior genetics is essential to learn and understand. The study of behavioral genetics helps to evaluate the abilities and disabilities of one’s genes and understand the present status by considering the past data. It is also helpful to identify the unique qualities of a particular gene and how they are distributed to further generations. It also focuses on all kinds of behavioral traits and how they get influenced by environmental factors, genetic factors, etc. Different methods explain different new things about an individual's behavior. For example, the twin method and adoption method are two other aspects from which the individual can understand how the parent would change the child's behavior. The twins of similar genes can behave differently in different situations.

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