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Genes Shape Playing Well with Others

We all know individuals who do well in groups and others that seem to be happiest and work best as solo artists.

Apparently, how well a person performs in a group is partly hereditary, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that how successfully an individual operates in a group is as much about having the right genetic make-up as it is having common cultural ties with fellow group members.

After assessing nearly 1,000 pairs of adult twins, researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that genetic influences have a major influence on how loyal a person feels to their social group.

It also has a significant impact on how flexibly they can adapt to group membership.

Family ties were less influential. Instead, factors outside the family such as ethnicity and religion seem to account for the environmental influences that determine how successfully a group will operate.

To assess the influence of genetics, scientists asked the twins a series of questions about how important it was for them that people with whom they are affiliated share their religion, ethnicity or race.

They found that identical twins — who share all their genes — gave very similar responses, whereas non-identical twins were much more likely to differ in their answers.

Interestingly, they found that being part of a strong religious group made subjects less likely to emphasize ethnic and racial influence when deciding with which coalitions they become involved, regardless of genetics.

Professor Timothy Bates, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, who led the research, said: “The success of a coalition reflects the genetic make-up of the group members as well as cultural factors such as shared goals, beliefs, and traditions.”

This research could be applied to investigate affiliation in areas such as work, sport and the military.”

The study, the first to examine the impact of both genetics and environment on how people form groups, is published in Psychological Science journal.

Source: University of Edinburgh

Genes Shape Playing Well with Others

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. (2018). Genes Shape Playing Well with Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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