Home » Blog » ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions

ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions

emotions 2 bigst

A new scientific study validates how truly awesome we are.

It’s a tough world out there for a person who is super sensitive.

If you’re a woman and you’re sensitive, people think of you as being fragile or crazy. If you’re a man and you’re too sensitive, people might think you’re weak or, god forbid, womanly.

But a recent study about the brains of sensitive people proves that there’s nothing wrong with sensitive people, we’re just programmed differently. In fact, our sensitivity is a great thing!

What Your Dream First Date Says About Your Personality

First things first, it turns out that being “sensitive” might be something we inherit genetically. How cool is that? Here I thought all I got from my mom was my cup size.

Check out YourTango for relationship advice

In the study, 39 volunteers were selected. 21 of those volunteers carried a genetic variation called ADRA2B. This variation is responsible for affecting and increasing the way we react emotionally to positive or negative events. In short, ADRA2B is the genetic variation that makes sensitive people sensitive, and it’s something that’s passed down.

Every single one of the 21 volunteers with ADRA2B had more complex and enhanced brain activity when exposed to positive OR negative stimulus. In other words, these sensitive people weren’t “overreacting”, they were reacting exactly as their DNA dictates they react.

The cool thing is that this science shows that sensitive people aren’t “overly” emotional.

In fact, their levels of brain activity in the study indicate that they are actually better able to pick up on emotional complexities in situations. That’s right, if you’re more sensitive, you aren’t being paranoid when you think you pick up a bad energy, you’re picking up bad energy that less sensitive people just can’t respond to in the same brilliant way.

God, I want to lord this over so many people. But because I am sensitive I will not do that.

Being the sensitive one in your group can be annoying when pick on you for taking things too seriously, or for being a nervous nelly. But the truth of the matter is that sensitive people are often the emotional centers of their friend groups. Without that one friend ready to say “I don’t know about this you guys…” you’re more likely to plunge head first into danger without thinking about the consequences.

Are You Emotionally Needy In Your Relationship?

So I’m glad to be able to say now, with scientific backing, that being sensitive is bad ass. Especially if you are close with people who aren’t. By demonstrating your own natural abilities to unpack complex social situations or tense exchanges, people who are not born sensitive can actually LEARN how to be more aware of the emotional undercurrent of their daily interactions by watching you!

So the next time someone teases you for crying at a dog food commercial, just take it in stride and remember that it’s not their fault they weren’t as lucky as you are to be born with such a rare and wonderful gift!

This guest article originally appeared on Why Highly Sensitive People Are Basically Superheroes.

ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment
APA Reference
Guest Author, P. (2018). ADRA2B: The Genetic Variation that Determines Our Emotional Reactions. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 10 Oct 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.