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The Project TALENT Twin and Sibling Study

  • Carol A. Prescott (a1) (a2), Deanna Lyter Achorn (a3), Ashley Kaiser (a3), Lindsey Mitchell (a3), John J. McArdle (a1) (a2) and Susan J. Lapham (a3)...

Project TALENT is a US national longitudinal study of about 377,000 individuals born in 1942–1946, first assessed in 1960. Students in about 1,200 schools participated in a 2-day battery covering aptitudes, abilities, interests, and individual and family characteristics (Flanagan, 1962; Follow-up assessments 1, 5, and 11 years later assessed educational and occupational outcomes. The sample includes approximately 92,000 siblings from 40,000 families, including 2,500 twin pairs and 1,200 other siblings of twins. Until recently, almost no behavior genetic research has been conducted with the sample. In the original data collection information was not collected with the intent to link family members. Recently, we developed algorithms using names, addresses, birthdates, and information about family structure to link siblings and identify twins. We are testing several methods to determine zygosity, including use of yearbook photographs. In this paper, we summarize the design and measures in Project TALENT, describe the Twin and Sibling sample, and present our twin-sib-classmate model. In most twin and family designs, the ‘shared environment’ includes factors specific to the family combined with between-family differences associated with macro-level variables such as socioeconomic status. The school-based sampling design used in Project TALENT provides a unique opportunity to partition the shared environment into variation shared by siblings, specific to twins, and associated with school- and community-level factors. The availability of many measured characteristics on the family, schools, and neighborhoods enhances the ability to study the impact of specific factors on behavioral variation.

Corresponding author
address for correspondence: Carol A. Prescott, Department of Psychology, Rm 501, MC 1061, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061USA. E-mail:
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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
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