Heritability of overlapping impulsivity and compulsivity dimensional phenotypes

Jeggan Tiego, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Ben J. Harrison, Andrew Dawson, Lucy Albertella, George J. Youssef, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Murat Yücel

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Impulsivity and compulsivity are traits relevant to a range of mental health problems and have traditionally been conceptualised as distinct constructs. Here, we reconceptualised impulsivity and compulsivity as partially overlapping phenotypes using a bifactor modelling approach and estimated heritability for their shared and unique phenotypic variance within a classical twin design. Adult twin pairs (N = 173) completed self-report questionnaires measuring psychological processes related to impulsivity and compulsivity. We fitted variance components models to three uncorrelated phenotypic dimensions: a general impulsive–compulsive dimension; and two narrower phenotypes related to impulsivity and obsessiveness.There was evidence of moderate heritability for impulsivity (A2 = 0.33), modest additive genetic or common environmental effects for obsessiveness (A2 = 0.25; C2 = 0.23), and moderate effects of common environment (C2 = 0.36) for the general dimension, This general impulsive–compulsive phenotype may reflect a quantitative liability to related mental health disorders that indexes exposure to potentially modifiable environmental risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14378
Number of pages17
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • human behaviour
  • psychology

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