Evolutionary Psychology: Reactive Heritability


People happen to experience, evaluate and react to similar environments in different ways, which starts from the moment of birth. Extravert children tend to strive after people and occurrences around them, whereas introvert children tend to ignore them. A shrill voice evoking a touchy girl’s tears might provoke no reaction in her brother who is less sensitive. A gifted child proves to derive from a book more than an ordinary child. In other words, the personality is acknowledged to gain from the objective surroundings the subjective psychological environment, which influences the further development. Factors of the environment are certain to have, therefore, an impact on IQ and personality’s qualities, although the latter is accepted to have a high level of heritability, and the process is called reactive correlation, and it is stated to be life-long.

Notions of Heritability and Reaction Correlation

In genetics, heritability is defined as a share of phenotypic changeableness in the population due to genetic changeableness about qualitative or quantitative characteristics. Differences between individuals are stated to result from genetic factors and the environment. Therefore, heritability is aimed to analyze the relative connection of the influence that genetic and non-genetic factors happen to have on the overall deviation of the phenotype in the population (Linch & Bourrat, 2017).

Reactive correlation is admitted to be a process when bearers of certain types of genotypes entrain particular reactions from the environments, including reactions from other people, which results in their interaction. People, thus, build their relationships with bearers of genotypes from a genetically determined individuality. In the case of reactive correlation, the environment is expected to react to the behavior related to the person’s genetic traits in a certain way. Correlation might enlarge changeableness when the impact of the environment extends the development of the characteristics connected with the presence of genetic inclinations which have resulted in the reaction from the environment (Linch & Bourrat, 2017). Any personality evokes different reactions in other people. For instance, a baby who feels nervous when taken to hands provokes less positive emotions in their parents than that who like being nursed. Obedient kids inspire a less strict manner of upbringing than aggressive ones. Based on the above-said, it is impossible to suppose that the observed correlation between the peculiarities of the upbringing and the child’s personality is a result of a cause-and-effect- relation. In fact, a child’s personality forms the educational style which, in its turn, influences the further development of the child’s personality (Lukaszewski & Roney, 2015).

While growing up, children start exceeding the bounds of the environment created by their parents. Hence, they begin choosing and building their environment which goes on to form their personality. Sociable children prefer going to the cinema with friends rather than staying home alone and watching TV. The outgoing personality, therefore, influences the choice and evokes communicability. However, if nobody invites them to the cinema, they make the necessary arrangements themselves. The process in which an individual becomes an active agent of the personality’s development is called proactive correlation. People show proactive correlation when they choose friends and spouses who share their interests (Von Rueden, Lukaszewski, & Gurven, 2015).

Types of Reaction Correlation

Two types of reactive correlation are scientifically recognized: positive and negative. One of the examples of positive correlation is a situation when children talented at drawing are chosen to be taught in a specially organized arts environment. If these abilities have developed due to genetic inclinations, it is possible to speak about reactive correlation which is likely to be created by any person, be it a relative or not (Lukaszewski & Roney, 2015).

As for the negative reactive correction, it might entrain a reduction in changeableness in the characteristic. For instance, a child who has difficulties with the acquisition of a particular skill is allocated in the environment where this skill is essential and being directionally formed. This child is, therefore, found backward and paid more attention to because of the acknowledged necessity to keep up with other kids. Hence, negative reaction correlation tends to go with the reduction of personal characteristics to the biosocial norm in the society (Lukaszewski & Roney, 2015).

Correlation between Biological Parents and Adoptive Families

It is believed to be important to dwell upon the correlation between biological parents of children who have been given upbringing, and the general environment in those families who have adopted these children. Psychological peculiarities of biological parents of children who have been given for upbringing might be used as indicators for the children’s genotypes. After that, these indicators can be juxtaposed to the environment data in the adoptive families (Linch & Bourrat, 2017).

Individual psychological characteristics of biological parents prove to be relatively weak signs for their children’s genotypes. In spite of this, correlations between behavioral, personal, or cognitive exponents of the adopted child’s biological parents and the environment which surrounds the child in the adoptive family can be acknowledged as evidence to the fact that environmental exponents are a reaction to the genetically controlled peculiarity of the adopted child. In other words, the environment is assumed to react to the genetically controlled characteristics of the adopted child (Linch & Bourrat, 2017).

At an early age, the role of reactive correlation does not appear significant in the formation of individual differences. However, reactive form tends to become more remarkable at later stages of development, and this is one of the correlation types which coordinates the process of the choice of the environments which are the most favorable for the genotype realization. For instance, it is stated that genetic risk to commit antisocial misdeeds of adoptive children ranges by that if their biological parents suffer from personality disorders and drug addiction. It is also admitted that adoptive parents of the children, whose biological parents suffer from these diseases, elaborate and undertake a more negative and repulsive style of upbringing for these kids. It correlates with an antisocial behavior of the adopted children, which allows formulating a hypothesis that negative and repulsive way of upbringing is a reaction to the child’s genetically established individuality, which is a reactive correlation (Linch & Bourrat, 2017).


In conclusion, it is necessary to point out that the relative importance of the reactive correlation between the personality and the environment happens to change in the course of development. An integrated connection between a child’s genotype and the environment appears to be stronger when the child is small and surrounded only by the private environment. When children grow up and start choosing and creating their environment, this initial connection tends to get weaker, while the impact of the proactive correlation proves to get stronger. However, as mentioned above, reactive correlation is believed to keep its importance life-long.


Linch, K. L., & Bourrat, P. (2017). Interpreting heritability casually. Philosophy of Science, 84(1), 14-34.

Lukaszewski, A. W., & Roney, J. R. (2015). Reactive heritability of extraversion: Where do we stand? Evaluation and Human Behaviour, 36(2015), 420-422.

Von Rueden, C. R, Lukaszewski, A. W., & Gurven M. (2015). Adaptive personality calibration in a human society: Effects of embodied capital of prosocial traits. Behavioral Ecology, 26(4), 1071-1082.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Evolutionary Psychology: Reactive Heritability'. 29 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Evolutionary Psychology: Reactive Heritability." September 29, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/evolutionary-psychology-reactive-heritability/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Evolutionary Psychology: Reactive Heritability." September 29, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/evolutionary-psychology-reactive-heritability/.


PsychologyWriting. "Evolutionary Psychology: Reactive Heritability." September 29, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/evolutionary-psychology-reactive-heritability/.