Document Type


Publication Date

January 1988

Journal or Book Title

Journal of Comparative Psychology






The development of a phenotype is due to an interaction of the genotype with the environment. Two terms have been used to describe the outcome of this interaction, the norm-of-reaction and the reaction range. The first represents the theoretically limitless distribution of the phenotypes that may be expressed by a given genotype. The reaction range implies an upper and lower limit for phenotype expression possible from a given genotype. A critical distinction between the reaction range and the norm-of-reaction is that the norm-of-reaction is a statement of the conceivable interactions found but does not imply any predictability other than that within the conditions previously tested experimentally, that is, the tails of a normal distribution are infinitely variable, whereas the concept of reaction range implies a limitation inherent in the genotype, that is, a finite range. Empirical support for the reaction-range concept is questionable. Animal studies cited in support of the reaction range have been inappropriately and incorrectly interpreted.