(Science Daily) Genes May Influence Popularity, Study Of College Students Finds
ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008)
A groundbreaking study of popularity by a Michigan State University scientist has found that genes elicit not only specific behaviors but also the social consequences of those behaviors.
According to the investigation by 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 study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association.
“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.