Human Behavioral Genetics’ “Unfulfilled Promise”


A review of the literature on behavioral genetics, published online today by Developmental Psychobiology, finds “powerful new methods have failed to reveal even one bona fide, replicable gene effect pertinent to the normal range of variation in intelligence and personality. There is no explanatory or predictive value in that genetic information … Genetically, the disorders are heterogeneous; different cases with the same diagnosis have different causes. The promises of the molecular genetic revolution have not been fulfilled in behavioral domains of most interest to human psychology.”

Abstract → 

Wahlsten, D. “The hunt for gene effects pertinent to behavioral traits and psychiatric disorders: From mouse to human.” Developmental Psychobiology, online June 8, 2012



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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. See The Crumbling Pillars of Behavioral Genetics

    Improvements Are Needed for Accuracy in Gene-By-Environment Interaction Studies, Experts Say

    Study Says DNA’s Power to Predict Illness Is Limited

    The Limits of Genetic Testing

    Genes Show Limited Value in Predicting Diseases

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