Genes play a greater role in academic success than intelligence, new study finds

Even with intelligence accounted for, genes determined 60% of academic achievement, study reveals.


Genetic factors account for about 60 percent of academic success, even after accounting for intelligence, finds a study.

For many years, research has linked educational achievement to life trajectories, such as occupational status, health or happiness.

But, the study explains that genes have substantial influence on academic success.

The kids were highly stable throughout schooling, meaning that most students who started off well in primary school continued to do well until graduation.

"Around two-thirds of individual differences in school achievement are explained by differences in children's DNA," Margherita Malanchini, a psychology postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, said.

"But less is known about how these factors contribute to an individual's academic success overtime," Malanchini added.

 Genes play a greater role in academic success than intelligence, new study finds

Representational image. Image courtesy: MaxPixel

However, that does not mean that an individual was simply born smart, researchers explained.

Even after accounting for intelligence, genes still explained about 60 percent of the continuity of academic achievement.

"Our findings should provide additional motivation to identify children in need of interventions as early as possible, as the problems are likely to remain throughout the school years," Kaili Rimfeld, a postdoctoral researcher at the King's College London, said.

For the study, published in NPJ Science of Learning, the team analysed test scores from primary through the end of compulsory education of more than 6,000 pairs of twins.

Genetic factors explained about 70 percent of this stability, while the twins' shared environment contributed to about 25 percent, and their non-shared environment – such as different friends or teachers – contributed to the remaining 5 percent.

However, at times grades did change, such as a drop in grades between primary and secondary school. Those changes, researchers said, can be explained largely by non-shared environmental factors.

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