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The Genetic Epidemiology of Self-Esteem

  • Marc-André Roy (a1), Michael C. Neale (a2) and Kenneth S. Kendler (a3)

Previous studies on self-esteem have focused exclusively on its psychosocial determinants. The goal of the present study is to clarify genetic v. environmental determinants of self-esteem.


Participants were Caucasian women sampled from the Virginia Twin Register: 363 pairs of MZ and 238 pairs of DZ twins were available from the first wave of the study, and 430 pairs of MZ and 308 pairs of DZ twins from the second. Self-esteem was assessed with the Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale.


Using univariate twin analyses of self-esteem and a repeated measurement twin model, we found that self-esteem is a moderately heritable trait (heritability = 52% in the repeated measurement model); environmental influences are also very important, and are probably mostly not shared by members of a twin pair.


Aetiological models of self-esteem which examine only psychosocial factors are incomplete; genetic factors need to be integrated.

Corresponding author
Dr Roy, Centre de Recherche Université Laval Robert-Giffard, 2601 de la Canardière, Beauport, Province de Québec, Canada G1J 2G3
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The Genetic Epidemiology of Self-Esteem

  • Marc-André Roy (a1), Michael C. Neale (a2) and Kenneth S. Kendler (a3)
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