Environmental Factors in Twin Studies

Twins are a significant source of information for behavioral psychological research, as their unique relationship helps researchers for genetic and environmental influences. Twin study findings help in detecting and treating genetic diseases and psychological disorders. If identical twins show similarity on a trait compared to fraternal twins, it is evidence for genetic factors being influential. However, if identical and fraternal twins both share a trait equally, then the environmental influence on the trait is more.

The environment plays an important role along with genetic factors information of one’s personality. Suppose a person’s skin color is brown (physical personality) so from a genetic point of view, his parents were both fair, and in childhood, the person was fair too. Then why his current color is brown? So one could say that brown color is because of tanning. The person was habitual to stay in sun for long hours outside the home. Hence, the skin is tanned and the color has turned brown. In this way, a person’s traits can differ due to external environmental factors. For example, a person might be very smart because his parents were intelligent, highly educated, and had exposure to different opportunities. Thus, this is an effect of the environment. It is also possible that a person is smart because he had certain genes that are affecting his brain.

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Following Environmental Traits Included in Twin Studies:

Culture: Culture followed at home plays an important role in twin studies, especially if twins are reared apart. Twins may show different personality traits, say one is reared in an open, friendly, and individualistic culture while another one in a traditionalist culture, thus the differences will occur.

Family and relatives: This can influence both, the twins’ studies of twins reared together as well as apart. The twins may face comparison at home, at relatives’ places, or any family function. If they have some different personality traits, twins may change their attitudes or traits.

Education: It is generally a great contributing factor when twins are adolescents and adults. In childhood, twins share their educational journey. But, in adolescence, they may want to pursue different disciplines, may get different levels of success, may progress differently at their jobs, and may earn different money. These factors change many personality traits even in twins.

Friends: A company of people, peer groups, and colleagues of even identical twins will differ. This circle of friends is a large contributing factor in how the thinking and behavior of a person would be. If one twin’s friends smoke, it is highly possible that he also smokes while another twin hates smoking.

Hobbies: Hobbies play an important role in the formation of personality. It is possible that a twin has an interest in sports and another one has an interest in creative arts. Thus, their personalities will be somewhat different.

Surroundings: The surrounding matters in the formation of personality. Suppose, one of the twins is raised in the city and another one in a small village, then their perspective towards people, economic condition, feeling of sharing, and belongingness will differ.

Economic and social class: The race, poverty-richness, middle-class, and caste-like categories impact largely on the mindset of people. Twins who have faced discrimination since childhood may see the world from different perspectives and may treat people differently.

The twins raised in an equitable environment will have the same perspectives towards others. Twins are special siblings because they are born at the same time. They have a similar genetic origin, and if reared together, they will have a similar upbringing. Identical twins look similar and generally are of same-sex. If reared together, they can have a similar influence on environmental factors. While non-identical twins generally look different, they may have different sex. Environmental factors play important role in the upbringing of fraternal twins. For example, one child out of non-identical twins maybe not that intelligent as compared to other one, it is obvious that he may face comparison at home. Such behavior may result in under-confidence in that child or may develop jealousy towards his sibling. Such comparisons can happen even at school, friends, and relatives, which can put different personality traits in that child.

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