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

  • 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…

  • February 7, 2017

    In collaboration with several other researchers, we have recently completed a two-year grant to recover important data from the Louisville Twin Study.  The LTS was begun in 1958 under the leadership of pediatrician Frank Faulkner. It was continuously funded for more than 40 years, before it was closed down between 1999 and 2003.  The signature…

Recent Blog Posts

  • Less time for blogging the next couple of weeks, so some shorter posts.... Pam Davis-Keen and Sarah Hart bring up an interesting question about genomic (or, for Davis-Keen, image-based) prediction: What if, for benign clinical purposes, you wanted to predict dyslexia in young children, so you could get services to them early? Surely there isn't…

  • First, a note from Twitter.  Several people (eg Michel Nivard and Ruben Arslan) thought I was being a little "misleading" in my characterization of what GPS can do as opposed to twin and family studies.  That may be; I can get carried away when I am pushing back against over-interpretation of genetic findings.  I was…

  • I said yesterday that GPS are basically an extension of twin and family studies, making it possible to use singletons to conduct the kind of research that used to require twins or other family members.  Such research can be useful for some purposes but it has not lead to a revolution in genetic explanation of…