Ó The Author(s) 2010. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com Abstract Social isolation and loneliness in humans have been associated with physical and psychological morbidity, as well as mortality. This study aimed to assess the etiology of individual differences in feelings of loneliness. The genetic architecture of loneliness was explored in an extended twin-family design including 8,683 twins, siblings and parents from 3,911 families. In addition, 917 spouses of twins participated. The presence of assortative mating, genetic non-additivity, vertical cultural transmission, genotype–environment (GE) correlation and interaction was modeled. GE interaction was considered for several demographic characteristics. Results showed non-random mating for loneliness. We confirmed that loneliness is moderately heritable, with a significant contribution of non-additive genetic variation. There were no effects of vertical cultural transmission. With respect to demographic characteristics, results indicated that marriage, having offspring, more years of education, and a higher number of siblings are associated Edited by Yoon-Mi Hur
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