Some traits are easily recognized as pieces of our DNA. Hair and eye colors, height, and the shape of our noses can typically be found in one or both of our parents. Ailments such as high blood pressure or mental illness have a hereditary factor, too.
Most traits commonly associated with our genetics are physical. We tend to believe that the way we behave and our personal preferences stem from our environment, lifestyle, and experiences. In reality, genetics play a large role in these factors as well.
Here are 10 surprising traits for which you can thank (or blame) your parents.
10. How Nice You Are
Your capacity for kindness and empathy is predetermined by your DNA. A certain gene produces a receptor for oxytocin, the “love hormone.” The receptor determines how much compassion you are inclined to show toward others.
The gene that produces the oxytocin receptor comes in three variants: G/G, A/G, or A/A. Those with the double G variant, one inherited from each parent, show the highest capacity for kindness. Those with the A/A variant show the lowest amounts of empathy for others, and A/G falls in the middle. Additionally, the G/G variant has been linked to a lower risk for autism and social anxiety, with the opposite being true for A/A.
A study revealed that people predisposed to be kind can maintain their niceness factor even during tough circumstances. Researchers examined how people acted when they felt fearful and related this to the variant found in their DNA.
The results showed that people with the G/G variant displayed the same amount of goodwill toward their peers even when they felt unsafe, while people with A/G or A/A variants who felt threatened responded by showing less compassion for others.
The good news is that kindness is common. In a study of 348 people, 51.5 percent had the double G variant, while only 7.2 percent had the A/A type.
9. Your Interest In Traveling
Some people are satisfied to spend their lives in one place without venturing far from their hometown. Others make it a priority to travel the world. The difference can be found in variations of the dopamine receptor gene. A certain variation of this gene, DRD4-7R, has been associated with curiosity and restlessness and is often referred to as the “wanderlust gene.”
Studies of DRD4-7R have shown that people with this variant have an adventurous spirit and are more open to new experiences. About 20 percent of people in the world have this gene variant. The variant is more prevalent in countries that are farther away from Africa.
This finding relates to the assumption that all human life began in Africa. If the earliest humans originated in Africa, then human populations that are far away were started by ancient ancestors who traveled quite a distance to find their new home.
DRD4-7R also has an association with “Neanderthalic behavior.” So carriers might spend their lives traveling and exploring exotic locales, but they also might end up thumping their chests and occasionally practicing cannibalism.