We examined whether attained socioeconomic status (SES) moderated genetic and environmental sources of individual differences in cognitive performance using pooled data from 9 adult twin studies. Prior work concerning SES moderation of cognitive performance has focused on rearing SES. The current adult sample of 12,196 individuals (aged 27-98 years) allowed for the examination of common sources of individual differences between attained SES and cognitive performance (signaling potential gene-environment correlation mechanisms, rGE), as well as sources of individual differences unique to cognitive performance (signaling potential gene-environment interaction mechanisms, G × E). Attained SES moderated sources of individual differences in 4 cognitive domains, assessed via performance on 5 cognitive tests ranging 2,149 to 8,722 participants. Attained SES moderated common sources of influences for 3 domains and influences unique to cognition in all 4 domains. The net effect was that genetic influences on the common pathway tended to be relatively more important at the upper end of attained SES indicating possible active rGE, whereas, genetic influences for the unique pathway were proportionally stable or less important at the upper end of attained SES. As a noted exception, at the upper end of attained SES, genetic influences unique to perceptual speed were amplified and genetic influences on the common pathway were dampened. Accounting for rearing SES did not alter attained SES moderation effects on cognitive performance, suggesting mechanisms germane to adulthood. Our findings suggest the importance of gene-environment mechanisms through which attained SES moderates sources of individual differences in cognitive performance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies