Reply to Goldfarb et al: On the Heritability and Socialization of Trust and Distrust

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Our article (1) presents evidence for the heritability of trust and the shared socialization of distrust. Goldfarb et al. (2) downloaded our dataset, which we had made publicly available for all researchers. We thank them for their reanalysis, which precisely replicated all point estimates reported in our article (1). Our reply focuses on three issues in response to their comments.

Heritability of Distrust

Our original research investigated the heritability of distrust, and our finding of a point estimate of 0.00 [which Goldfarb et al. (2) replicate twice in their table 1] is in considerable contrast to prior claims stating that all human traits are significantly heritable (3). As we emphasize in our work (1), “[a]lthough it is, of course, hard to establish conclusively the absence of an effect, our results suggest that heritability does not contribute substantially to explaining a particular behavioral trait (i.e., distrust).” While we cannot provide conclusive evidence directly contradicting this heritability claim (3) at a statistical-significance standard (and we would not assert we have disproven it), our results give reason to rethink it. Importantly, our assessment of a negligible effect of the heritability of distrust is not only based on point estimates and confidence intervals (CIs) but systematic model comparisons, with fit statistics suggesting that the CE model appears to be the best-fitting model