Is motivation a genetic trait? An analysis involving more than 13.000 identical twins in six countries seems to indicate that it might be just that.
The study found that as much as half of a child’s motivation to learn may be the result of a genetic predisposition. However, the team cautioned against jumping to conclusions since enjoyment of learning is complex and involves both genetic makeup and environment.
Genetic influences were significant, but so was the environment,” said study co-author Stephen Petrill, a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
According to Petrill, childhood motivation should be viewed as a genetic trait in the same way that traits such as risk for obesity and heart disease are viewed. Both genetics and environment influence the outcome.
Children are not doomed to academic failure by their genetics, Petrill stressed, but “if we are going to try to create the most positive environment possible to motivate children, we also have to take into account possible biological differences as well.”