Quantifying the heritability of belief formation

Valentina Vellani, Neil Garrett, Anne Gaule, Kaustubh R. Patil, Tali Sharot

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Individual differences in behaviour, traits and mental-health are partially heritable. Traditionally, studies have focused on quantifying the heritability of high-order characteristics, such as happiness or education attainment. Here, we quantify the degree of heritability of lower-level mental processes that likely contribute to complex traits and behaviour. In particular, we quantify the degree of heritability of cognitive and affective factors that contribute to the generation of beliefs about risk, which drive behavior in domains ranging from finance to health. Monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs completed a belief formation task. We first show that beliefs about risk are associated with vividness of imagination, affective evaluation and learning abilities. We then demonstrate that the genetic contribution to individual differences in these processes range between 13.5 and 39%, with affect evaluation showing a particular robust heritability component. These results provide clues to which mental factors may be driving the heritability component of beliefs formation, which in turn contribute to the heritability of complex traits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11833
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2022

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