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

  •   Greg Cochran has a review of Carl Zimmer’s new book in Quillette.  Zimmer’s book is long, and (as Cochran notes; I haven’t finished it) has a great deal in it, most of which appears to be of little interest to Cochran.  He wants to talk about race, and though he manages to talk around…

  • Heritability and Malleability There has been some interesting discussion on Twitter of a very old topic, the relationship between heritability and malleability.  The standard thing to say here is that there is no relationship between the two-- the fact that an individual difference is heritable is not the same as saying it isn't malleable.  There…

  • Emily Smith-Woolley, along with Robert Plomin and his team, just published an article entitled, "Differences in exam performance between pupils attending selective and non-selective schools mirror the genetic differences between them."  The title of the article is in my opinion seriously misleading.  I have to say that I am very disappointed that such a prestigious…