Your popularity lies in your genes, not your stars

December 22nd, 2008 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 22 (IANS) Genes could be the reason why you are so popular among college mates in spite of your rowdiness or proclivity to break rules, according to the latest research.It’s not unusual for adolescent rule-breakers to be well-liked - previous research has made that link - but this is the first to provide meaningful evidence for the role of a specific gene in this process.

Behavioural geneticist S. Alexandra Burt, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, found that male students who had a gene associated with rule-breaking behaviour were rated most popular by a group of previously unacquainted peers.

“The idea is that your genes predispose you to certain behaviours and those behaviours elicit different kinds of social reactions from others,” said Burt. “And so what’s happening is that your genes are to some extent driving your social experiences.”

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 behaviour, said a Michigan State release.

“So the gene predisposed them to rule-breaking behaviour and their rule-breaking behaviour 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 behaviours and other genes in larger samples.

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

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