Husband-Wife Correlations in Neurocognitive Test Performance


Spousal correlations are known to have a number of physical and mental characteristics, among which general mental ability is one of the strongest. IQ tests have ordinarily been used in studies of assortative mating, but in neurocognitive tests, less frequently. In this study, we examined spousal correlations in 76 husband-wife pairs using a computerized neuropsychological test battery. Significant spousal correlations occurred in the two most highly g-loaded tests, shifting attention and symbol digit coding, but not in the other tests or in any of the reaction time measures. The correlation between husbands and wives on the neurocognitive index, a summary score based on the individual tests and analogous to the IQ score, was even higher (r = .717). The pattern of spousal correlation described in IQ tests is thus replicated in a battery of neuropsychological tests. In a previous paper we reported positive correlations between first-degree relatives who were administered the CNT battery, and which occurred primarily in tests of complex information processing, SDC and SAT (Hervey, Greenfield, & Gualtieri, 2012). In this paper, we note that the same two tests contribute more strongly than any other tests to the high spousal correlation for neurocognition. There is a certain symmetry, then, between the cognitive skills that play into spouse selection and the cognitive skills that are inherited. A better word than symmetry might be inevitability. The findings of these studies suggest that computerized neurocognitive testing is an appropriate tool for studies of the genetics of cognition, that measures of processing speed are particularly salient and that the CNT is a suitable instrument. The advantages of computerized neurocognitive tests like the CNT include speed and efficiency, standard administration, suitability for repeated measures and elimination of scoring and transcription errors. Tests that are Internet-based like the CNT are amenable to centralized data collection and have flexibility in administration in different settings, even permitting the collection of data from remote sources. In genetic studies of cognition, where large numbers of subjects are necessary, this technology may also be inevitable.

Share and Cite:

Gualtieri, C. (2013). Husband-Wife Correlations in Neurocognitive Test Performance. Psychology, 4, 771-775. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.410109.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Rey, A. (1964). L’examen clinique en psychologie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
[2] Bentler, P. M., & Newcomb, M. D. (1978). Longitudinal study of marital success and failure. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 1053-1070.
[3] Bereczkei, T., & Csanaky, A. (1996). Mate choice, marital success, and reproduction in a modern society. Ethology and Sociobiology, 17, 17-35.
[4] Bereczkei, T., Gyuris, P., & Weisfeld, G. E. (2004). Sexual imprinting in human mate choice. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 271, 1129-1134.
[5] Brooks, B. L., & Barlow, K. M. (2011). A methodology for assessing treatment response in Hashimoto’s encephalopathy: A case study demonstrating repeated computerized neuropsychological testing. Journal of child neurology, 26, 786-791.
[6] Constantino, J. N., & Todd, R. D. (2005). Intergenerational transmission of subthreshold autistic traits in the general population. Biological Psychiatry, 57, 655-660.
[7] Correia, H. R. (2003). Higher male educational hypergamy: Evidence from Portugal. Journal of Biosocial Science, 35, 303-313.
[8] Courtiol, A., Raymond, M., Godelle, B., & Ferdy, J.-B. (2010). Mate choice and human stature: Homogamy as a unified framework for understanding mating preferences. Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution, 64, 2189-2203.
[9] Díaz-Morales, J. F., Quiroga Estévez, M. A., Escribano Barreno, C., & Delgado Prieto, P. (2009). Assortative mating in temperament and intelligence, and the role of marital satisfaction. Psicothema, 21, 262-267.
[10] Dufouil, C., & Alpérovitch, A. (2000). Couple similarities for cognitive functions and psychological health. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 53, 589-593.
[11] Epstein, E., & Guttman, R. (1984). Mate selection in man: Evidence, theory, and outcome. Social Biology, 31, 243-278.
[12] Farley, F. H., & Davis, S. A. (1977). Arousal, personality, and assortative mating in marriage. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 3, 122-127.
[13] Gualtieri, C., & Johnson, L. (2005). Neurocognitive testing supports a broader concept of mild cognitive impairment. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 20, 359-366.
[14] Gualtieri, C., & Johnson, L. (2006). Reliability and validity of a computerized neurocognitive test battery, CNS Vital Signs. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology: The Official Journal of the National Academy of Neuropsychologists, 21, 623-643.
[15] Gualtieri, C., & Johnson, L. (2008a). Medications do not necessarily normalize cognition in ADHD patients. Journal of Attention Disorders, 11, 459-469.
[16] Gualtieri, C., & Johnson, L. (2008b). A computerized test battery sensitive to mild and severe brain injury. Medscape Journal of Medicine, 10, 90.
[17] Gualtieri, C. T., & Hervey, A. S. (2013). The structure and meaning of a computerized neurocognitive test. Ms Submitted.
[18] Hasstedt, S. J. (1995). Phenotypic assortative mating in segregation analysis. Genetic Epidemiology, 12, 109-127.
[19] Hervey, A. S., Greenfield, K., & Gualtieri, C. T. (2012). Heritability in cognitive performance: Evidence using computer-based testing. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 173, 112-118.
[20] Iverson, G. L., Brooks, B. L., Langenecker, S. A., & Young, A. H. (2011). Identifying a cognitive impairment subgroup in adults with mood disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 132, 360-367.
[21] Jensen, A. R. (1998). The heritability of g. In The g factor: The science of mental ability (pp. 169-203). London: Praeger.
[22] Johnson, R. C., Ahern, F. M., & Cole, R. E. (1980). Secular change in degree of assortative mating for ability? Behavior Genetics, 10, 1-8.
[23] Konnov, M. V., Dobordzhginidze, L. M., Deev, A. D., & Gratsianskii, N. A. (2010). Spousal concordance for factors related to metabolic syndrome in families of patients with premature coronary heart disease. Kardiologiia, 50, 4-8.
[24] Krueger, R. F., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Bleske, A., & Silva, P. A. (1998). Assortative mating for antisocial behavior: Developmental and methodological implications. Behavior Genetics, 28, 173-186.
[25] Le, T. H., Pardo, J. V., & Hu, X. (1998). 4 T-fMRI study of nonspatial shifting of selective attention: cerebellar and parietal contributions. Journal of Neurophysiology, 79, 1535-1548.
[26] Lucas, T. W., Wendorf, C. A., Imamoglu, E. O., Shen, J., Parkhill, M. R., Weisfeld, C. C., & Weisfeld, G. E. (2004). Marital satisfaction in four cultures as a function of homogamy, male dominance and female attractiveness. Sexualities, Evolution & Gender, 6, 97-130.
[27] Mascie-Taylor, C. G. (1989). Spouse similarity for IQ and personality and convergence. Behavior Genetics, 19, 223-227.
[28] Mascie-Taylor, C. G., & Gibson, J. B. (1979). A biological survey of a Cambridge suburb: Assortative marriage for IQ and personality traits. Annals of Human Biology, 6, 1-16.
[29] Merikangas, K. R. (1982). Assortative mating for psychiatric disorders and psychological traits. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39, 1173-1180.
[30] Nagahama, Y., Sadato, N., Yamauchi, H., Katsumi, Y., Hayashi, T., Fukuyama, H., et al. (1998). Neural activity during attention shifts between object features. Neuroreport, 9, 2633-2638.
[31] Nagoshi, C. T., Johnson, R. C., & Ahern, F. M. (1987). Phenotypic assortative mating vs. social homogamy among Japanese and Chinese parents in the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition. Behavior Genetics, 17, 477-485.
[32] Nagoshi, C. T., Johnson, R. C., & Danko, G. P. (1990). Assortative mating for cultural identification as indicated by language use. Behavior Genetics, 20, 23-31.
[33] Nagoshi, C. T., Johnson, R. C., Yuen, S. H., & Ahern, F. M. (1986). Further investigations of educational and occupational attainment in the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition. Social Biology, 33, 35-50.
[34] Negri, F., Melica, A. M., Zuliani, R., & Smeraldi, E. (1979). Assortative mating and affective disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 1, 247-253.
[35] Norton, M. C., Smith, K. R., Østbye, T., Tschanz, J. T., Corcoran, C., Schwartz, S., et al. (2010). Greater risk of dementia when spouse has dementia? The Cache County study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58, 895-900.
[36] Risch, N., Choudhry, S., Via, M., Basu, A., Sebro, R., Eng, C., et al. (2009). Ancestry-related assortative mating in Latino populations. Genome Biology, 10, R132.
[37] Rosvold, H. E., & Delgado, J. M. (1956). The effect on delayed-alternation test performance of stimulating or destroying electrically structures within the frontal lobes of the monkey’s brain. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 49, 365-372.
[38] Rushton, J. P. (1989). Genetic similarity, human altruism, and group selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 503-559.
[39] Sebro, R., Hoffman, T. J., Lange, C., Rogus, J. J., & Risch, N. J. (2010). Testing for non-random mating: Evidence for ancestry-related assortative mating in the Framingham heart study. Genetic Epidemiology, 34, 674-679.
[40] Silventoinen, K., Kaprio, J., Lahelma, E., Viken, R. J., & Rose, R. J. (2003). Assortative mating by body height and BMI: Finnish twins and their spouses. American Journal of Human Biology: The Official Journal of the Human Biology Council, 15, 620-627.
[41] Smith, A. (1982). Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT). Manual (Revised). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.
[42] Speakman, J. R., Djafarian, K., Stewart, J., & Jackson, D. M. (2007). Assortative mating for obesity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86, 316-323.
[43] Stroop, J. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643-662.
[44] Taylor, E. M. (1959). The appraisal of children with cerebral deficits. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[45] Torche, F. (2010). Educational assortative mating and economic inequality: A comparative analysis of three Latin American countries. Demography, 47, 481-502.
[46] Van Grootheest, D. S., Van den Berg, S. M., Cath, D. C., Willemsen, G., & Boomsma, D. I. (2008). Marital resemblance for obsessivecompulsive, anxious and depressive symptoms in a population-based sample. Psychological Medicine, 38, 1731-1740.
[47] Watson, D., Klohnen, E. C., Casillas, A., Simms, E. N., Haig, J., & Berry, D. S. (2004). Match makers and deal breakers: Analyses of assortative mating in newlywed couples. Journal of Personality, 72, 1029-1068.
[48] Wilson, G., & Cousins, J. (2003). Partner similarity and relationship satisfaction: Development of a compatibility quotient. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 18, 161-170.
[49] Zonderman, A. B., Vandenberg, S. G., Spuhler, K. P., & Fain, P. R. (1977). Assortative marriage for cognitive abilities. Behavior Genetics, 7, 261-271.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.