Genetics affects choice of academic subjects as well as achievement.

Rimfeld, Kaili; Dale, Philip S.; Ayorech, Ziada; Kovas, Yulia and Plomin, Robert. 2016. Genetics affects choice of academic subjects as well as achievement. Scientific Reports, 6, 26373. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

Rimfeld 2016 Sc Reports Choice.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (588kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

We have previously shown that individual differences in educational achievement are highly heritable throughout compulsory education. After completing compulsory education at age 16, students in England can choose to continue to study for two years (A-levels) in preparation for applying to university and they can freely choose which subjects to study. Here, for the first time, we show that choosing to do A-levels and the choice of subjects show substantial genetic influence, as does performance after two years studying the chosen subjects. Using a UK-representative sample of 6584 twin pairs, heritability estimates were 44% for choosing to do A-levels and 52–80% for choice of subject. Achievement after two years was also highly heritable (35–76%). The findings that DNA differences substantially affect differences in appetites as well as aptitudes suggest a genetic way of thinking about education in which individuals actively create their own educational experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



16 June 2016Published
28 April 2016Accepted
17 December 2015Submitted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

07 Jul 2017 14:53

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)