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Developing SENSES: Student Experiences of Non-Shared Environment Scales

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  • Sündüs Yerdelen
  • Tracy Durksen
  • Kaili Rimfeld
  • Robert Plomin
  • Kathryn Asbury


Publication details

JournalPLoS ONE
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Aug 2018
DatePublished (current) - 6 Sep 2018
Original languageEnglish


Twin and adoption studies find that non-shared environmental (NSE) factors account for variance in most behavioural traits and offer an explanation for why genetically identical individuals differ. Using data from a qualitative hypothesis-generating study we designed a quantitative measure of pupils’ non-shared experiences at the end of formal compulsory education (SENSES: Student Experiences of Non-Shared Environment Scales). In Study 1 SENSES was administered to n=117 16-19 year old twin pairs. Exploratory Factor Analysis yielded a 49-item 10 factor solution which explained 63% of the variance in responses. SENSES showed good internal consistency and convergent and divergent validity. In Study 2 this factor structure was confirmed with data from n=926 twin pairs and external validity was demonstrated via significant correlations between 9 SENSES factors and both public examination performance and life satisfaction. These studies lend preliminary support to SENSES but further research is required to confirm its psychometric properties; to assess whether individual differences in SENSES are explained by NSE effects; and to explore whether SENSES explains variance in achievement and wellbeing.

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