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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Adoption studies

Definition:
Scientific studies that assess hereditary influences by examining the resemblance between adopted children and their biological and adoptive parents.
 
Background:
If adopted children resemble their biological parents on a specific trait (even though they were not raised by them), it is likely that genetic factors influence that trait. Conversely, if adopted children resemble their adoptive parents (even though they don't share any of the same genes), it is likely that environmental factors influence the trait. Adoption studies assessing intelligence have indicated that there is a significant correlation (.36) between adopted children and their biological parents, suggesting a genetic influence. However, there is also a significant, slightly lower correlation (.31) between adopted children and their adoptive parents. It can therefore be concluded that intelligence is influenced by both heredity and the environment.
 
Further Reading:

Carlson, N. R. (1990). Physiology of Behavior. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kalat, J. W. (1992). Biological Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Pinel, J. P.L. (1990). Biopsychology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

The Economist (1992). Nature or nurture? Old chestnut, new thoughts. The Economist. Dec 26, 1992 - Jan 8, 33-34.

 
Related Terms:
Family studies

Twin studies

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 2-item self-test over this concept.

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