No Evidence for Social Genetic Effects or Genetic Similarity Among Friends Beyond that Due to Population Stratification: A Reappraisal of Domingue et al (2018)

Citation

Yengo, Loic; Sidari, Morgan; Verweij, Karin J. H.; Visscher, Peter M.; Keller, Matthew C.; & Zietsch, Brendan P. (2019). No Evidence for Social Genetic Effects or Genetic Similarity Among Friends Beyond that Due to Population Stratification: A Reappraisal of Domingue et al (2018). Behavior Genetics.

Abstract

Using data from 5500 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, Domingue et al. (Proc Natl Acad Sci 25:256., 2018) claimed to show that friends are genetically more similar to one another than randomly selected peers, beyond the confounding effects of population stratification by ancestry. The authors also claimed to show ‘social-genetic’ effects, whereby individuals’ educational attainment (EA) is influenced by their friends’ genes. We argue that neither claim is justified by the data. Mathematically we show that (1) the genetic similarity reported between friends is far larger than theoretically possible if it was caused by phenotypic assortment as the authors claim; uncontrolled population stratification is a likely reason for the genetic similarity they observed, and (2) significant association between individuals’ EA and their friends’ polygenic scores for EA is a necessary consequence of EA similarity among friends, and does not provide evidence for social-genetic effects. Going forward, we urge caution in the analysis and interpretation of data at the intersection of human genetics and the social sciences.

URL

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-019-09979-2

Keyword(s)

genomic similarity

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Behavior Genetics

Author(s)

Yengo, Loic
Sidari, Morgan
Verweij, Karin J. H.
Visscher, Peter M.
Keller, Matthew C.
Zietsch, Brendan P.

Year Published

2019

ISSN/ISBN

1573-3297

DOI

10.1007/s10519-019-09979-2

Reference ID

5927