Personality Is Not Fully Determined By Genes

We are partially genetically made, but this does not mean that our traits are determined by our DNA. Genes don't determine personality.

Behavioural geneticists investigate the genetic and environmental bases of psychological and many other human qualities. The field has generated some of psychology’s most frequently repeated findings with a long history and established research procedures. But not everyone agrees with the results. This, in my opinion, is primarily due to a misunderstanding of what these findings signify.

The most important law of Behavioural Psychology is that “everything is partly heritable.”

This law is based on the statistical pattern that virtually any quantifiable attribute, including personality traits, is shared by genetically related individuals, such as identical twins, regular siblings, or parents and children. Of course, this tendency is only valid “on average” and suitably large samples; it is merely a statistical abstraction. Individuals like you and I are only slightly more likely than total strangers to look like our parents or siblings.

The idea that people who share more genetic similarities tend to share more psychological similarities—in other words, more comparable personality traits—does not need to be contentious.

If one’s usual behaviour, thoughts, and feelings had nothing to do with DNA, that would be strange. One must constantly adapt behaviour to the peculiarities of the body and its brain to survive and prosper.

Unless they are identical twins, people have slightly distinct genetic makeup, which causes tiny differences in their organisms, especially their brains. They frequently have to behave, think, and feel in distinct ways to live with the peculiarities of their organisms and minds. They have slightly distinct personalities as a result.

People are more prone to rely on diverse patterns of behaviour, cognition, and emotion to find the best possible fit with the situations at hand the more genetically different their organisms and brains are.

Because of genetic variances, each person’s organism’s proteins are put together somewhat differently, and for them to survive and thrive with their particular creatures, they create distinctive ways of acting, thinking, and feeling.

The fact that genetically similar people’s qualities only resemble on average and even genetically identical individuals are frequently significantly different is the most evident reason why genes do not determine people’s psychological fates.

But even if genes do have some influence, extensive research has demonstrated that hundreds of tiny changes along the DNA can be used to correlate individual variances in any psychological feature. Therefore, only a very small portion of why people differ in a feature can be attributed to each unique DNA mutation.

Additionally, we are aware that each tiny DNA variant can simultaneously influence a variety of features.

As a result, genes and phenotypes are not directly related. The same genetic heritage can result in varying levels of numerous qualities, and every trait level can correlate to countless gene combinations.

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