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Why You are the WayYou Are

By Shawlin Shahid and Nasheath



You walk in class and see the kid that’s already shouting across the class and making the whole class laugh. You see the charm he has on others and the natural outgoingness he portrays. On the other side of the class, you see the student sitting at the desk so reserved and to himself. He doesn’t even make eye contact with others and you trying to get a single word out him is the hardest part of your day. In everyday life, we see those people that are completely outgoing and those that are more reserved to themselves. The personalities are completely opposite from each other, and it isn’t for no reason that it is. There’s an actual science behind our personality, and it has to do with our genetic makeup. Generally it is common knowledge that the association between physical characteristics is significantly influenced by genetics. On the contrary, it is also assumed that psychological traits such as personality is highly dependent on situational and environmental aspects rather than genetics. However, there is an influx of research investigating the influence of genetics on personality, and these studies have discovered associations between these two factors.

Using currently available data from various other studies, researchers compiled personality traits of various participants using the Five Factor Scale which consists of the traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Blood samples were extracted from all the participants and SNP genotyping (single nucleotide polymorphisms) was used to determine possible genes that can be associated with each of the Big Five personality traits. A SNP is defined as a DNA sequence variation that can occur when a single nucleotide in the genome sequence is altered. Similar alterations can be found within individuals with similar personality traits.

It was found that there was a genome wide significance for openness to experience near the RASA1 gene on 5q14.3 and for Conscientiousness in the brain-expressed KATNAL2 gene on 18q21.1. This information is particularly impactful for mental health patients due to finding a significance in genes that may result in the predictive nature of personality traits. This would aid in allowing for diagnosis and individual-specific treatment if build upon.

Not only does our gene sequence code for personality traits, but they are also linked to psychological disorders. There have been genetic correlations between cited between extraversion and ADHD as well as neuroticism and depression. Although all the research may seem very tempting, the research has only proved to show correlation and not causation. So, the next time you see that wild kid goofing around in class, just remember that his genetic code may have had an influence on him.

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