Turkheimer's Projects: Genetics and Human Agency

In addition to managing the Genetics and Human Agency project, the Turkheimer lab conducts ongoing empirical and philosophical investigations of the role of genetics in the development of complex human behavior.  We are especially interested in understanding differences in cognitive ability.  We are always following up on one aspect or another of our (2003) report that the heritability of intelligence is attenuated at low levels of socioeconomic status.  Current investigations of this phenomenon use data from the Louisville Twin Study, the TwinLife project in Germany, and conscript data from Norway.

Philosophically, we are interested in understanding how basic knowledge about the heritability of human behavior should change humans’ understanding of themselves.  We are currently working on developing a scientifically grounded, socially progressive attitude toward research on genetics and race.  We are also working on a deeper philosophical understanding of human intelligence.

Other topics we are currently working on include the genetics of BMI and the multivariate representation of highly complex individual differences like personality.

Recent Project Activities

  • May 14, 2018

    Genetics & Human Agency held its second annual meeting at the University of Virginia from May 2-4, 2018. Presentations based on research funded by the GHA covered three main themes: free will and agency, empirical methods, and complex causation. Topics included lay beliefs about heritability, gene-environment interaction and correlation in relation to parenting behaviors, and…

  • August 25, 2017

    Genetics & Human Agency held its annual meeting at the University of Virginia on May 11 and 12, 2017. Presentations based on research funded by the GHA covered genomics, gene-environment interplay, agency, and genetic determinism, among other topics. The research combined empirical science with a philosophical approach to behavior genetics, placing particular emphasis on human…

  • February 7, 2017

    Obviously, one of the main activities of our lab is managing the Genetics and Human Agency project.  This initiative, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, is providing support to 17 teams of scientists and philosophers seeking to understand the complex relationship between genetic variation and complex human behavior.  You will see details of those projects…

Recent Blog Posts

  • A new paper by Selzam, Ritchie, Pingault, Reynolds, O'Reilly and Plomin has just been published on bioRxiv. They show results of an analysis that I have been looking forward to for a long time-- looking at the performance of GPS for a variety of physical and psychological phenotypes between and within pairs of DZ twins…

  • Last year I wrote a response to a an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science by Robert Plomin, John DeFries, Valerie Knopik and Jenae Niederhiser titled, "Top Ten Replicated Findings from Behavioral Genetics."  Mine was titled "Weak Genetic Explanation Twenty Years Later." There is a lot of arguing in there, but one point in…

  • Plomin’s treatment of “The Gloomy Prospect” is not quite as egregious as his taking credit for the First Law of Behavior Genetics. On the other hand, it provides a clear insight into his overall rewriting of the history of developmental behavioral genetics and the consequences that history has for his understanding of modern genomics. Let’s…