Evidence for a relation between neuroticism and religion is scarce and inconsistent. The aims of the present study were to determine the association of religious upbringing with adult neuroticism scores and to examine the effect of religious upbringing on the heritability of neuroticism. As part of a longitudinal survey of twin families from the Netherlands Twin Register, data were collected on neuroticism and religious upbringing. Restricting the sample to persons aged 25 and over resulted in a sample of 4369 twins and 1304 siblings from 2698 families. Religious upbringing was significantly associated with neuroticism; in both men and women neuroticism levels were lower in those who had received a religious upbringing. There were no sex or twin-sibling differences in neuroticism variances and covariances. Structural equation modeling showed differences in heritability between those with and without religious upbringing. In the group with religious upbringing, variation in neuroticism was determined for 41 % by additive genetic factors and for the remaining 59% by unique environmental factors. In the group who had not received a religious upbringing, variation in neuroticism was determined for 55% by genetic factors, with evidence for both additive and nonadditive factors, and for the remaining 45% by unique environmental influences. In conclusion, having received a religious upbringing is associated with lower neuroticism scores and a lower heritability in adulthood.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)