The transmission of social attitudes has been investigated as a possible model of cultural inheritance in a sample of 3810 twin pairs from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Twin Registry. Six social attitude factors were identified and univariate genetic models fitted to scores on each factor. A joint multivariate genetic analysis of the six attitude factors, church attendance, and education indicated that the attitudes were correlated-the same genes and shared environments influenced more than one attitude factor. A current controversy regarding social attitudes is whether the significant loadings on this shared environmental component represent true cultural influences or are actually the genetic consequences of phenotypic assortative mating for church attendance and educational attainment (Martin et al., 1986). In our data, church attendance is almost entirely due to the impact of the shared environment. The large shared environmental component on church attendance also accounts for a substantial part of the family resemblance in social attitudes, suggesting that not all of the apparent cultural effects found in earlier studies can be ascribed to the genetic effects of assortative mating. However, church attendance and education do not completely account for the cultural component. Therefore, effects in addition to church attendance, education, and assortative mating for church attendance and education must be involved in the cultural component of the inheritance of attitudes.
- assortative mating
- family environment
- multivariate genetic analysis