Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do You Like Roller Coaster Rides Or Hate Them? Your Genes May Play A Role

Date:
June 20, 2001
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Attitudes are learned, but new research shows that differences between people in many attitudes are also partly attributable to genetic factors. These include attitudes as diverse as whether one likes roller coaster rides to controversial social issues such as attitudes toward abortion and the death penalty for murder.

WASHINGTON - Attitudes are learned, but new research shows that differences between people in many attitudes are also partly attributable to genetic factors. These include attitudes as diverse as whether one likes roller coaster rides to controversial social issues such as attitudes toward abortion and the death penalty for murder. The findings appear in this month's American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Study authors James M. Olson, Ph.D., Philip A. Vernon, Ph.D. and Julie Aitken Harris, Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario and Kerry L. Jang, Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia, surveyed 336 pairs of adult Canadian twins (both fraternal and identical) to explore the role of genetic factors in creating differences between individuals in attitudes. By comparing the responses to attitude questions between the identical and fraternal twins, (for example, "My overall attitude toward doing crossword puzzles is" with answers ranging from "extremely unfavorable" to "extremely favorable") the researchers were able to determine which attitudes were more influenced by genetic factors.

Of the 30 individual attitude items on the survey, 26 of them showed some genetic influence. The five which produced the largest genetic connection were attitudes toward reading books, abortion without restrictions, playing organized sports, roller coaster rides, and the death penalty for murder. The four items found to have no genetic effect were attitudes toward separate roles for men and women, playing bingo, easy access to birth control and being assertive.

Putting the individual attitude items into broader categories, the three factors having the largest genetic influence were attitudes toward the preservation of life (including attitudes toward abortion without restrictions, voluntary euthanasia and organized religion), attitudes toward equality (including attitudes toward making racial discrimination illegal, open-door immigration policies and getting along well with others), and attitudes toward athleticism (including attitudes toward doing athletic activities, playing organized sports and exercising). Factors having the smallest genetic influence included attitudes toward intellectual pursuits (including attitudes toward reading books, doing crossword puzzles and playing chess).

Given that direct gene-to-attitude connections are extremely unlikely, what are the mechanisms that might account for the genetic component of attitudes? The authors found that several personality traits and related characteristics--themselves highly heritable--may play a role. Sociability, in particular, showed a strong genetic connection with several attitudes. Athletic ability and physical attractiveness also produced significant genetic connections with certain attitudes.

"Presumably, these characteristics predisposed individuals to form particular kinds of attitudes, thereby contributing to the genetic determination of individual differences in those attitudes," said the researchers. "For example, a person with inherited physical abilities such as good coordination and strength might be more successful at sports than less athletically inclined individuals, resulting in the more athletic person developing favorable attitudes toward sports."

The authors say it's important to keep in mind that nonshared environmental factors (unique experiences of each member of a twin pair) had the most powerful contribution to attitudes. However, they add that more research is needed on the role of biological influences, including genetic factors, in the formation and change of attitudes. "In the long run, we stand to gain the most understanding from perspectives that integrate biology and experience in accounting for individual differences."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Do You Like Roller Coaster Rides Or Hate Them? Your Genes May Play A Role." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010619073151.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2001, June 20). Do You Like Roller Coaster Rides Or Hate Them? Your Genes May Play A Role. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010619073151.htm
American Psychological Association. "Do You Like Roller Coaster Rides Or Hate Them? Your Genes May Play A Role." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010619073151.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins