Twin Research and Human Genetics

Guest Editorial

Longitudinal Genetic Analysis for Loneliness in Dutch Twins

Dorret I. Boomsmaa1 c1, John T. Cacioppoa2, Bengt Muthéna3, Tihomir Asparouhova4 and Shaunna Clarka5

a1 Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. di.boomsma@psy.vu.nl

a2 University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.

a3 University of California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

a4 Muthén & Muthén, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

a5 University of California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

Abstract

In previous studies we obtained evidence that variation in loneliness has a genetic component. Based on adult twin data, the heritability estimate for loneliness, which was assessed as an ordinal trait, was 48%. These analyses were done on loneliness scores averaged over items (‘I feel lonely’ and ‘Nobody loves me’) and over time points. In this article we present a longitudinal analysis of loneliness data assessed in 5 surveys (1991 through 2002) in Dutch twins (N = 8389) for the two separate items of the loneliness scale. From the longitudinal growth modeling it was found sufficient to have non-zero variance for the intercept only, while the other effects (linear, quadratic and cubic slope) had zero variance. For the item ‘I feel lonely’ we observed an increasing age trend up to age 30, followed by a decline to age 50. Heritability for individual differences in the intercept was estimated at 77%. For the item ‘Nobody loves me’ no significant trend over age was seen; the heritability of the intercept was estimated at 70%.

(Received January 28 2007)

(Accepted February 05 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: D. I. Boomsma, Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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