Genome-wide association (GWA) studies have shown that genetic influences on individual differences in affect, behavior, and cognition are driven by thousands of DNA variants, each with very small effect sizes. Here, we propose taking inspiration from GWA studies for understanding and modeling the influence of the environment on complex phenotypes. We argue that the availability of DNA microarrays in genetic research is comparable with the advent of digital technologies in psychological science that enable collecting rich, naturalistic observations in real time of the environome, akin to the genome. These data can capture many thousand environmental elements, which we speculate each influence individual differences in affect, behavior, and cognition with very small effect sizes, akin to findings from GWA studies about DNA variants. We outline how the principles and mechanisms of genetic influences on psychological traits can be applied to improve the understanding and models of the environome.
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- effect sizes
- large data