Entries in genetics (4)


Is There a Gene “for” Divorce?

One of my colleagues has a coffee mug that I think summarizes the whole genes vs. environment debate pretty well: “Nature or nurture, either way it’s your parents’ fault.” Cheeky coffee mugs aside, one of the enduring legacies that our parents give us is their DNA. We know that genes influence all sorts of outcomes—how tall we are, how much we weigh, the color of our eyes, and our likelihood of developing certain diseases and disorders. But, it was only about 25 years ago that researchers started to look at the influence of this genetic blueprint on our relationship outcomes. 

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Nice Genes: Serotonin, Conflict, and Marital Satisfaction

Ever wonder what can cause one couple to stay together and another to divorce? One study found that high levels of negative emotion such as arguing or criticism and low levels of positive emotion such as indifference during marital interactions were associated with lower levels of martial satisfaction.1 In other words, if a couple fights a lot, and does so in a not-so-nice way, they’re not as happy in their marriage. This conclusion seems like a “no brainer.” Who wants to be in a hostile relationship?  

But we all know couples that seem to fight all the time yet remain relatively happy and stay together for years, whereas others seem to split at the first sign of a disagreement. Is there a way to tell if a relationship is at risk for being especially affected by negative interaction dynamics?

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Your First Date: Make Sure Your Genes Fit

Getting ready for a first date involves preparations to look and feel good. It might involve a new ‘do,’ a clean shave, or fresh new outfit with a great pair of jeans that fit perfectly. But great-fitting jeans are not the only thing that people are making sure fit before their first date. People can now check that their genes fit. Yep, genes -- as in our DNA -- before going on a first date. 

Love Is In the Air

Our body smell is an important determining factor of whether someone else finds us attractive or not. In fact, I can’t think of a single person I know who is really attracted to someone they think smells bad. If anything, people remark at how good the person smells. In fact, smell is so important that a huge industry making perfumes and colognes thrives off our desire to smell good to one another. Smell is so important that women rank it higher than appearance when asked what they consider to be the single most important variable in mate choice!

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The Orchid Effect: How Relationships and Genetics Influence Your Health 

A lot of things undermine physical health, like poor diet, lack of exercise, and not enough sleep. Did you know that dysfunctional relationships — those characterized by lots of conflict and poor communication — also contribute to poor health? For example, when couples are "hostile" toward one another, there’s a good chance that any recent wounds (even everyday cuts and abrasions) will take longer to heal than if partners maintain a more civil and responsive tone with one another during disagreements or other conversations.1 On the other hand, good relationships, and not just those we have with our romantic partners, generally benefit our overall health. But why?

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