Adoption Strategies


Adoption strategies are research designs for studying sources of variation in human behavior that require the cleavage between rearing and biological background produced by adoption. Resemblance between biologically unrelated individuals reared in the same family estimates the importance of shared experience as a source of variation in human behavior.

Keywords: adoption; intelligence; personality; Colorado Adoption Project

Figure 1.

Correlations of parental general cognitive ability with child IQ scores at ages 4, 7, 12 and 16 years for adoptive parent–adopted child (AP–AC), birth parent–adopted child (BP–AC) and control parent–control child (CP–CC) relationships.



Alarcón M, Plomin R, Fulker DW, Corley R and De Fries JC (1999) Molarity not modularity: multivariate genetic analysis of specific cognitive abilities in parents and their 16‐year‐old children in the Colorado Adoption Project. Cognitive Development 14: 175–193.

Bishop EG, Cherny SS, Corley RP, et al. (2002) Developmental genetic analysis of general cognitive ability from 1 to 12 years in a sample of adoptees, biological siblings, and twins. Intelligence 137: 1–20.

Cadoret RJ, Yates WR, Troughton E and Woodworth G (1995) Genetic–environmental interaction in the genesis of aggressivity and conduct disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry 52: 916–924.

Cloninger CR, Bohman M and Sigvardsson S (1981) Inheritance of alcohol abuse: cross‐fostering analysis of adopted men. Archives of General Psychiatry 38: 861–868.

De Fries JC, Plomin R and Fulker DW (1994) Nature and Nurture During Middle Childhood. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Scientific Publishers.

Fulker DW, De Fries JC and Plomin R (1988) Genetic influence on general mental ability increases between infancy and middle childhood. Nature 336: 767–769.

Heston LL (1966) Psychiatric disorders in foster home reared children of schizophrenic mothers. British Journal of Psychiatry 112: 819–825.

Horn JM, Loehlin JC and Willerman L (1979) Intellectual resemblance among adoptive and biological relatives: the Texas Adoption Project. Behavior Genetics 9: 177–207.

Loehlin JC, Horn JM and Willerman L (1989) Modeling IQ change: evidence from the Texas Adoption Project. Child Development 60: 993–1004.

Plomin R, Caspi A, Corley R, Fulker DW and De Fries JC (1998) Adoption results for self‐reported personality: evidence for nonadditive genetic effects? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75: 211–218.

Plomin R, Fulker DW, Corley R and De Fries JC (1997) Nature, nurture, and cognitive development from 1 to 16 years: a parent–offspring adoption study. Psychological Science 8: 442–447.

Skodak M and Skeels HM (1949) A final follow‐up on one hundred adopted children. Journal of Genetic Psychology 75: 84–125.

Further Reading

Capron C and Duyme M (1989) Assessment of the effects of socio‐economic status on IQ in a full cross‐fostering study. Nature 340: 552–554.

Capron C and Duyme M (1996) Effect of socioeconomic status of biological and adoptive parents on WISC‐R subtest scores of their French adopted children. Intelligence 22: 259–275.

Loehlin JC, Willerman L and Horn JM (1982) Personality resemblances between unwed mothers and their adopted‐away offspring. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 42: 1089–1099.

Loehlin JC, Willerman L and Horn JM (1987) Personality resemblance in adoptive families: a 10‐year follow‐up. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 53: 961–969.

McGue M, Sharma S and Benson P (1996) Parent and sibling influences on adolescent alcohol use and misuse: evidence from a US adoption cohort. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 57: 8–18.

Plomin R and De Fries JC (1985) Origins of Individual Differences in Infancy: The Colorado Adoption Project. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

Plomin R and De Fries JC (1998) The genetics of cognitive abilities and disabilities. Scientific American 278: 62–69.

Plomin R, De Fries JC and Fulker DW (1988) Nature and Nurture During Infancy and Early Childhood. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Scarr S and Weinberg RA (1976) IQ test performance of black children adopted by white families. American Psychologist 31: 726–739.

Scarr S and Weinberg RA (1978) The influence of ‘family background’ on intellectual attainment. American Sociological Review 43: 674–692.

Tienari P, Wynne LC, Moring J, et al. (1994) The Finnish adoptive study of schizophrenia: implications for family research. British Journal of Psychiatry 23(supplement): 20–26.

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Corley, Robin P(Jul 2006) Adoption Strategies. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005231]