Genetic contributions of noncognitive skills to academic development

Margherita Malanchini, Andrea G Allegrini, Michel G Nivard, Pietro Biroli, Kaili Rimfeld, Rosa Cheesman, Sophie von Stumm, Perline A Demange, Elsje van Bergen, Andrew D Grotzinger, Laurel Raffington, Javier De la Fuente, Jean-Baptiste Pingault, K Paige Harden, Elliot M Tucker-Drob, Robert Plomin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Noncognitive skills such as motivation and self-regulation, are partly heritable and predict academic achievement beyond cognitive skills. However, how the relationship between noncognitive skills and academic achievement changes over development is unclear. The current study examined how cognitive and noncognitive skills contribute to academic achievement from ages 7 to 16 in a sample of over 10,000 children from England and Wales. Noncognitive skills were increasingly predictive of academic achievement across development. Twin and polygenic scores analyses found that the contribution of noncognitive genetics to academic achievement became stronger over the school years. Results from within-family analyses indicated that associations with noncognitive genetics could not simply be attributed to confounding by environmental differences between nuclear families and are consistent with a possible role for evocative/active gene-environment correlations. By studying genetic effects through a developmental lens, we provide novel insights into the role of noncognitive skills in academic development.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2023

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