List of familial confounds

For many decades various environmental variables have been interpreted as causal factors without adequate genetically informative designs being used. In the last decade or so, many large genetically informative studies began to be published showing that the statistical relationships between environmental variables and outcome variables were not causal, but resulted from a genetic confound i.e. environment variables are often heritable too. This page is meant as a collection of such studies, so that one may adjust one’s expectations. In short, one should stop making the sociologist’s fallacy.

Each header is the alleged environmental cause, each bullet is the supposed outcome.

Note: some studies also found shared environmental confounds, so while genetics did not explain all of the association, the purported environmental cause didn’t either.

Neighborhood deprivation

Population density

Childhood family income


Music practice

Maternal smoking during pregnancy

Being a teenage mother

Early age at first sexual intercourse

  • Psychosocial maladjustment: Cannabis use, alcohol abuse/dependency, depressive symptoms, criminal offending, adolescent childbearing, various amounts of genetic and shared environmental confounding

Low socioeconomic status (education, income)


High school friendships

Smoking cannabis

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