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Biogeographic Ancestry, Cognitive Ability and Socioeconomic Outcomes

Ulster Institute for Social Research, London AL2 1AB, UK
Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Krijgskundestraat 33, B-1160, Brussels, Belgium
Independent researcher
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Psych 2019, 1(1), 1-25;
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 20 December 2018 / Published: 10 January 2019
The cause(s) of ubiquitous cognitive differences between American self-identified racial/ethnic groups (SIREs) is uncertain. Evolutionary-genetic models posit that ancestral genetic selection pressures are the ultimate source of these differences. Conversely, sociological models posit that these differences result from racial discrimination. To examine predictions based on these models, we conducted a global admixture analysis using data from the Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics Study (PING; N = 1,369 American children). Specifically, we employed a standard methodology of genetic epidemiology to determine whether genetic ancestry significantly predicts cognitive ability, independent of SIRE. In regression models using four different codings for SIRE as a covariate, we found incremental relationships between genetic ancestry and both general cognitive ability and parental socioeconomic status (SES). The relationships between global ancestry and cognitive ability were partially attenuated when parental SES was added as a predictor and when cognitive ability was the outcome. Moreover, these associations generally held when subgroups were analyzed separately. Our results are congruent with evolutionary-genetic models of group differences and with certain environmental models that mimic the predictions of evolutionary-genetic ones. Implications for research on race/ethnic differences in the Americas are discussed, as are methods for further exploring the matter. View Full-Text
Keywords: race; ethnicity; biogeographic ancestry; genomics; cognitive ability; socioeconomic status race; ethnicity; biogeographic ancestry; genomics; cognitive ability; socioeconomic status
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Kirkegaard, E.O.W.; Woodley of Menie, M.A.; Williams, R.L.; Fuerst, J.; Meisenberg, G. Biogeographic Ancestry, Cognitive Ability and Socioeconomic Outcomes. Psych 2019, 1, 1-25.

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