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A twin study is a kind of genetic study done to determine heritability. The premise is that since identical twins (especially identical twins raised apart) have identical genotypes, differences between them are solely due to environmental factors. By examining the degree to which twins are differentiated, a study may determine the extent to which a particular trait is influenced by genes or the environment.
Twins have been of interest to scholars since early civilization, such as the early physician Hippocrates (5th c. BCE), who attributed similar diseases in twins to shared material circumstances, and the stoic philosopher Posidonius (1rst c. BCE), who attributed such similarities to shared astrological circumstances. Later, St. Augustine of Hippo (4rth c. CE) pointed to the differences in fraternal twins, such as Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament, to disprove the central tenet of astrology, that time of birth determines personality and fate.
For a group of twins in which at least one member of each pair is affected, pairwise concordance is a measure of how many of each pair will have both members affected. It can be calculated with a formula of C/C+D, in which C is the number of concordant pairs and D is the number of discordant pairs.
For example, a group of 10 twins have been pre-selected to have one affected member. During the course of the study four other previously non-affected members become affected. This gives a pairwise concordance of 4/(4+6) or 4/10 or 40%.
For a group of twins in which at least one member of each pair is affected, probandwise concordance is a measure of the proportion of twins who have the illness who have an affected twin and can be calculated with the formula of 2C/(2C+D), in which C is the number of concordant pairs and D is the number of discordant pairs.
For example, a group of 10 twins that have been pre-selected to have one affected member. During the course of the study four other previously non-affected members become affected. This gives a probandwise concordance of 8/(8+6) or 8 / 14 or 57%.
Concordance studies compare traits which are either present or absent in each twin, correlational studies compare the agreement in continuously varying traits across twins.
Twin studies in various disorders
- Main article: Twin studies in schizophrenia
- Main article: Twin studies in depression
- Joseph, J. Twin studies in psychiatry and psychology: Science or pseudoscience? Psychiatric Quarterly,2002, 73(1), 71-82.
- Horwitz AV, Videon TM, Schmitz MF, Davis D. Rethinking twins and environments: possible social sources for assumed genetic influences in twin research. J Health Soc Behav. 2003 Jun;44(2):111-29.
Twin studies currently recruiting subjects
The following Twin Studies are ongoing studies that are recruiting subjects:
References & Bibliography
- Jensen, A.R. (1970) IQs of identical twins reared apart, Behaviour Genetics 2: 136.
- McNemar, Q. (1938) Newman, Freeman and Holzinger's twins: a study of heredity and environment, Psychological Bulletin 35: 247-8.
- Newman, H.H., Freeman, F.N. and Holzinger, K.J.(1937) Twins: a Study of Heredity and Environment,Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.
- Shields, J. (1962) Monozygotic Twins Brought Up Apart and Brought Together, London: Oxford University Press.
- Jang, K.L., McCrae, R.R., Angleitner, A. Riemann, R. & Livesley, W.J. (1998). Heritability of facet-level traits in a cross-cultural twin sample: support for a hierarchical model of personality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74:1556-1565.
- Juel-Nielsen, N. (1965) Individual and environment a psychiatric-psychological investigation of monozygotic twins reared apart, Acta Psychiatrica et Neurologica Scandinavica, Monograph Supplement: 183
- Koluchova, 3. (1976a) Severe deprivation in twins: a case study. In: A.M. Clarke and A.D.B. Clarke (eds) Early Experience: Myth and Evidence, London: Open Books.
- Koluchova, J. (1976b) A report on the further development of twins after severe and prolonged deprivation. In: A.M. Clarke and A.D.B. Clarke (eds) Early Experience: Myth and Evidence, London: Open Books.
- Murray, R. M., Clifford, C. A. And Gurling, H. M. D. (1983) Twin and adoption studies. How good is the evidence for a genetic role? Recent Dev Alcohol. 1:25-48.
- Segal, Nancy L. (1993) Twin, sibling, and adoption methods: Tests of evolutionary hypotheses. American Psychologist. 48(9):943-956.
- Emery, E.M. (1976) Methodology in medical genetics: an introduction to statistical methods. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. [ISBN 0443035091]
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