The social genome of friends and schoolmates in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health

Benjamin W. Domingue, Daniel W. Belsky, Jason M. Fletcher, Dalton Conley, Jason D. Boardman, Kathleen Mullan Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humans tend to form social relationships with others who resemble them. Whether this sorting of like with like arises from historical patterns of migration, meso-level social structures in modern society, or individual-level selection of similar peers remains unsettled. Recent research has evaluated the possibility that unobserved genotypes may play an important role in the creation of homophilous relationships. We extend this work by using data from 5,500 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine genetic similarities among pairs of friends. Although there is some evidence that friends have correlated genotypes, both at the whole-genome level as well as at trait-associated loci (via polygenic scores), further analysis suggests that meso-level forces, such as school assignment, are a principal source of genetic similarity between friends. We also observe apparent social–genetic effects in which polygenic scores of an individual’s friends and schoolmates predict the individual’s own educational attainment. In contrast, an individual’s height is unassociated with the height genetics of peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-707
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume115
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 23 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Keywords

  • BMI
  • Educational attainment
  • GWAS
  • Polygenic score
  • Social–genetic effect

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