The informativeness of different relationships for resolving the genetic and cultural transmission of a continuous variable is explored by computer simulation. Extended twin, extended nuclear-family, and adoption designs are considered. Combining data on twin and parent-offspring pairs provides a powerful means of detecting genetic and cultural transmission. The addition of uncle-nephew and first-cousin data sometimes leads to an increase in power. Designs involving monozygotic twin pairs and their offspring are weaker. The most powerful adoption designs involve data on both biological parent-adopted-away offspring and adoptive parent-adopted offspring pairs. In the absence of information about biological parents, combining nuclear-family, adoptive parent-adopted offspring, and adoptive/natural sibling relationships still provides a powerful strategy for hypothesis testing. Adoption designs are more robust than extended twin and extended nuclear-family designs for resolving cultural and biological inheritance in the presence of genetic dominance or phenotypic assortative mating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-465
Number of pages27
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1985


  • Genetic
  • adopteds
  • cultural
  • designs
  • twins


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