The discovery of genetic variants associated with psychological traits deepens our knowledge about causes and consequences of individual differences. In psychology, the standard approach to identify these variants is the "candidate gene study." In a candidate gene study, a limited set of genetic variants is selected based on their hypothesized or known biological function, and these variants are tested for association with the psychological trait of interest. The successful replication of published candidate gene studies, however, is alarmingly scarce. In this article we describe the challenges to successfully identifying genetic associations, and review the candidate gene studies published in Emotion. We conclude that the implementation of 4 methodological guidelines developed by the Behavior Genetics Association for evaluating candidate gene studies will help to increase the credibility of candidate gene study findings.

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Department of Applied Economics