Heritability of self-reported phobic fear

M.A. Distel*, J. Vink, G. Willemsen, C.M. Middeldorp, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, D.I. Boomsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Twin studies on fear and phobia suggest moderate genetic effects. However, results are inconclusive regarding the presence of dominant genetic effects and sex differences. Using an extended twin design, including male and female twins (n = 5,465) and their siblings (n = 1,624), we examined the genetic and environmental influences on blood-injury, social, and agoraphobic fear and investigated their interaction with sex and age. Data of spouses (n = 708) of twins were used to evaluate assortative mating for the three fear dimensions. Results showed that there was no assortative mating for blood-injury, social and agoraphobic fear. Resemblance between biological relatives could be explained by additive and non-additive genetic effects for blood-injury and agoraphobic fear in all participants, and social fear in participants aged 14-25 years. For social fear in participants aged 26-65 only additive genetic effects were detected. Broad-sense heritability estimates ranged from 36 to 51% and were similar for men and women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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