Estimating the Additive Heritability of Historiometric Eminence in a Super-Pedigree Comprised of Four Prominent Families

Michael A Woodley, Mateo Peñaherrera-Aguirre, Matthew A Sarraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By merging analytical approaches from the fields of historiometrics and behavior genetics, a social pedigree-based estimate of the heritability of eminence is generated. Eminent individuals are identified using the Pantheon dataset. A single super-pedigree, comprised of four prominent and interrelated families (including the Wedgwood-Darwin, Arnold-Huxley, Keynes-Baha'u'lláh, and Benn-Rutherford pedigrees) is assembled, containing 30 eminent individuals out of 301 in total. Each eminent individual in the super-pedigree is assigned a relative measure of historical eminence (scaled from 1 to 100) with noneminent individuals assigned a score of 0. Utilizing a Bayesian pedigree-based heritability estimation procedure employing an informed prior, an additive heritability of eminence of .507 (95% CI [.434, .578]) was found. The finding that eminence is additively heritable is consistent with expectations from behavior-genetic studies of factors that are thought to underlie extraordinary accomplishment, which indicate that they are substantially additively heritable. Owing to the limited types of intermarriage present in the data, it was not possible to estimate the impact of nonadditive genetic contributions to heritability. Gene-by-environment interactions could not be estimated in the present analysis either; therefore, the finding that eminence is simply a function of additive genetic and nonshared environmental variance should be interpreted cautiously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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