Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Research Article

XV.—The Correlation between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance.

R. A. Fisher

Several attempts have already been made to interpret the well-established results of biometry in accordance with the Mendelian scheme of inheritance. It is here attempted to ascertain the biometrical properties of a population of a more general type than has hitherto been examined, inheritance in which follows this scheme. It is hoped that in this way it will be possible to make a more exact analysis of the causes of human variability. The great body of available statistics show us that the deviations of a human measurement from its mean follow very closely the Normal Law of Errors, and, therefore, that the variability may be uniformly measured by the standard deviation corresponding to the square root of the mean square error. When there are two independent causes of variability capable of producing in an otherwise uniform population distributions with standard deviations σ1 and σ2, it is found that the distribution, when both causes act together, has a standard deviation S0080456800012163_inline1. It is therefore desirable in analysing the causes of variability to deal with the square of the standard deviation as the measure of variability. We shall term this quantity the Variance of the normal population to which it refers, and we may now ascribe to the constituent causes fractions or percentages of the total variance which they together produce. It is desirable on the one hand that the elementary ideas at the basis of the calculus of correlations should be clearly understood, and easily expressed in ordinary language, and on the other that loose phrases about the “percentage of causation,” which obscure the essential distinction between the individual and the population, should be carefully avoided.

(Received June 15 1918)