Family resemblance (anthropology)

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Family resemblance refers to physical similarities shared between close relatives, especially between parents and children and between siblings.[1] In psychology, the similarities of personality are also observed.


Heritability, defined as a measure of family resemblance, causes traits to be genetically passed from parents to offspring (heredity), allowing evolutionarily advantageous traits to persist through generations.[2][3][4][5] Despite sharing parents, siblings do not inherit identical genes, making studies on identical twins (who have identical DNA) especially effective at analyzing the role genetics play in phenotypic similarity.[6] Studies have found that generational resemblance of many phenotypic traits results from the inheritance of multiples genes that collectively influence a trait (additive genetic variance).[7] There is evidence of heritability in personality traits. For example, one study found that approximately half of personality differences in high-school aged fraternal and identical twins were due to genetic variation - and another study suggests that no one personality trait is more heritable than another.[6][8]


Family resemblance is also shaped by environmental factors, temperature, light, nutrition, exposure to drugs, the time that different family members spend in shared and non-shared environments, are examples of factors found to influence phenotype.[9][10][11] Phenotypes found to be largely environmentally determined in humans include personality, height, and weight.[12][10][13][14] Twin studies have shown that more than half of the variation in a few major aspects of personality are environmentally determined, and that environmental factors even affect traits like immune response and how children handle stress.[10][15][16] Additionally, anomalous findings, such as second-degree relatives of alcoholics, showing surprising similarities to them have led some researchers’ attempts in generating better models that account for the environmental impacts on influences like cultural inheritance, family structure and head of household, which have been shown to influence family resemblance.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Who Do You Look Like? DNA and Family Resemblance Across Generations
  2. ^ Dolinska B (June 2013). "Resemblance and investment in children". International Journal of Psychology (in French). 48 (3): 285–90. doi:10.1080/00207594.2011.645482. PMID 22385106.
  3. ^ Tremblay BL, Guénard F, Lamarche B, Pérusse L, Vohl MC (April 2018). "Familial resemblances in human whole blood transcriptome". BMC Genomics. 19 (1): 300. doi:10.1186/s12864-018-4698-6. PMC 5921553. PMID 29703154.
  4. ^ Bochud M (2012). "Estimating heritability from nuclear family and pedigree data". Methods in Molecular Biology. 850: 171–86. doi:10.1007/978-1-61779-555-8_10. PMID 22307699.
  5. ^ Brodie E (2014). The Princeton Guide to Evolution. Princeton University Press. pp. 221–229.
  6. ^ a b Plomin R, Daniels D (June 2011). "Why are children in the same family so different from one another?". International Journal of Epidemiology. 40 (3): 563–82. doi:10.1093/ije/dyq148. PMC 3147063. PMID 21807642.
  7. ^ Polderman TJ, Benyamin B, de Leeuw CA, Sullivan PF, van Bochoven A, Visscher PM, Posthuma D (July 2015). "Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies". Nature Genetics. 47 (7): 702–9. doi:10.1038/ng.3285. PMID 25985137.
  8. ^ Ahern FM, Johnson RC, Wilson JR, McClearn GE, Vandenberg SG (May 1982). "Family resemblances in personality". Behavior Genetics. 12 (3): 261–280. doi:10.1007/bf01067847. ISSN 0001-8244.
  9. ^ "Environmental Influences on Gene Expression | Learn Science at Scitable". Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  10. ^ a b c Plomin R, Daniels D (June 2011). "Why are children in the same family so different from one another?". International Journal of Epidemiology. 40 (3): 563–82. doi:10.1093/ije/dyq148. PMC 3147063. PMID 21807642.
  11. ^ Sulikowski D (2016-08-08). Evolutionary Theory: Fringe or Central to Psychological Science. Frontiers Media SA. ISBN 9782889199204.
  12. ^ Eysenck, H. J. (March 1990). "Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Individual Differences: The Three Major Dimensions of Personality". Journal of Personality. 58 (1): 245–261. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1990.tb00915.x.
  13. ^ "Why are we getting taller as a species?". Scientific American. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  14. ^ "Human Height". Our World in Data. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  15. ^ Sirota M, Willemsen G, Sundar P, Pitts SJ, Potluri S, Prifti E, Kennedy S, Ehrlich SD, Neuteboom J, Kluft C, Malone KE, Cox DR, de Geus EJ, Boomsma DI (April 2015). "Effect of genome and environment on metabolic and inflammatory profiles". PLOS One. 10 (4): e0120898. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120898. PMC 4390246. PMID 25853885.
  16. ^ Schreiber JE, Shirtcliff E, Van Hulle C, Lemery-Chalfant K, Klein MH, Kalin NH, Essex MJ, Goldsmith HH (October 2006). "Environmental influences on family similarity in afternoon cortisol levels: twin and parent-offspring designs". Psychoneuroendocrinology. 31 (9): 1131–7. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2006.07.005. PMC 2754130. PMID 16997489.
  17. ^ Cloninger CR, Rice J, Reich T (May 1979). "Multifactorial inheritance with cultural transmission and assortative mating. III. Family structure and the analysis of separation experiments". American Journal of Human Genetics. 31 (3): 366–88. PMC 1685778. PMID 572636.