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A-students born rather than made

School performance depends not only on genes

A-students born rather than made

The professor of genetics and psychology, director of the Inlab Department Laboratory of Psychology of Goldmits University in London, co-director of the Russo-British psychogenetic laboratory of the Psychological Institute of RAE, the head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies and Psychogenetics of the Tomsk State University Yulia Kovas told more about the study to the PNAS magazine.

- What is the main conclusion of this study?

- The main conclusion of the paper is that individual differences in school performance, estimated in 16-year-old British schoolchildren on the basis of their finals results, are explained by genetic differences. Moreover, genetic factors associated with school performance not fully coincide with the genetic influence on general intelligence.

The genetic factors that contribute to individual differences in temperament, motivation, and emotional characteristics also contribute to individual differences in school performance.

- What are the methods used in this study? What is your direct contribution?

- There was used a twin method, in particular multi-dimensional structural modeling of twin data. Data on the performance, as well as a large number of cognitive, motivational, personal, and other data of more than 13 thousand twins were collected. I have worked in the Twin TEDS project in the UK for more than eight years. During this study, I participated both in the analysis and in the writing section.

 

The project also involved my students. The project manager is Robert Plomin, one of the most respected modern researchers in the field of psychogenetics and developmental psychology.

- How do intelligence and hereditary traits correlate, according to the study?

- Individual differences in general intelligence of the 16-year-olds are explained by genetic differences by about 60%. It is interesting that a similar percentage of individual differences is explained in school performance. However, only about half of the genetic factors that influence school performance, is associated with genes that affect intelligence. The other half is associated with genetic factors involved in motivation, personal, and other characteristics.

Thus, the genetic structure of school performance is polygenic and is even more complicated than the structure of intelligence.