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Genetic Basis for Popularity

Genetic Basis for PopularityA groundbreaking study of popularity has found that genes elicit not only specific behaviors but also the social consequences of those behaviors.

According to the investigation by Michigan State University behavioral geneticist S. Alexandra Burt, male college students who had a gene associated with rule-breaking behavior were rated most popular by a group of previously unacquainted peers.

It’s not unusual for adolescent rule-breakers to be well-liked – previous research has made that link – but Burt is the first to provide meaningful evidence for the role of a specific gene in this process.

“The idea is that your genes predispose you to certain behaviors and those behaviors elicit different kinds of social reactions from others,” said Burt, assistant professor of psychology.

“And so what’s happening is, your genes are to some extent driving your social experiences.”

The concept — which researchers call “evocative gene-environment correlation” — had been discussed in scientific literature but only in theory.

This study is the first to really flesh out the process, establishing clear connections between a specific gene, particular behaviors and actual social situations, she said.

Burt collected DNA from more than 200 male college students in two separate samples. After interacting in a lab setting for about an hour, the students filled out a questionnaire about whom they most liked in their group.

In both samples, the most popular students turned out to be the ones with a particular form of a serotonin gene that was also associated with rule-breaking behavior.

“So the gene predisposed them to rule-breaking behavior and their rule-breaking behavior made them more popular,” Burt said.

Burt is working on similar studies with female college students, as well as mixed-gender social groups. She also plans to explore associations with other social behaviors and other genes in larger samples.

The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Source: Michigan State University

Genetic Basis for Popularity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Genetic Basis for Popularity. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/12/29/genetic-basis-for-popularity/3561.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.