Gene–Environment Correlation in Humans: Lessons from Psychology for Quantitative Genetics
Saltz, Julia B.
Evolutionary biologists have long been aware that the effects of genes can reach beyond the boundary of the individual, that is, the phenotypic effects of genes can alter the environment. Yet, we rarely apply a quantitative genetics approach to understand the causes and consequences of genetic variation in the ways that individuals choose and manipulate their environments, particularly in wild populations. Here, I aim to stimulate research in this area by reviewing empirical examples of such processes from the psychology literature. Indeed, psychology researchers have been actively investigating genetic variation in the environments that individuals experience—a phenomenon termed “gene–environment correlation” (rGE)—since the 1970s. rGE emerges from genetic variation in individuals’ behavior and personality traits, which in turn affects the environments that they experience. I highlight concepts and examples from this literature, emphasizing the relevance to quantitative geneticists working on wild, nonhuman organisms. I point out fruitful areas of crossover between these disciplines, including how quantitative geneticists can test ideas about rGE in wild populations.
extragenetic inheritance; gene–environment correlation; gene–environment interplay; quantitative genetics