The past two decades have produced an exponential increase in research examining the genetic and environmental factors that influence both normal and atypical patterns of behavior. This rapid accumulation of new knowledge illustrates the broad impact of behavioral and molecular genetic methods. However, the results of these studies have also underscored the complexity of the etiological pathways for all psychological traits and demonstrate clearly how much is yet to be learned.
The first section of this entry provides a brief overview of behavioral genetic methods that can be used to determine the extent to which a psychological trait or disorder is due to genetic or environmental influences. The second section describes molecular genetic techniques that can then be applied to localize genes that increase risk for the disorder. Finally, the concluding section summarizes several key implications and future directions of behavioral genetic studies.
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