The age-old debate about the influence of genetics on human lives is still alive. Learn what decades of research tells us about the far-reaching impact of genetics and environment on literally every aspect of your life. This blog takes you on the profound journey of genetic influences on major aspects of your life and everything you do to nurture your inherited potential.
What you will learn -
- The influence of genetic makeup as opposed to one's early environment in their development
- Different ways genetics directs one's personality traits and emotions
- The physical influence of one's genetic makeup
- The connection between genetics and one's creative and artistic abilities
- The genetics of career and work decisions
‘A pair of presidents, keep it all in the family’, read the headline of a NY times article. Two identical twins - The Shapiro brothers, brought up at different places, both ended up becoming presidents of two different universities. One at Princeton(US) and the other at McGill(Canada) around the same time. Even though they grew up in different environments, the possibility of the twins becoming university presidents suggests a degree of genetic predisposition to certain personality traits and talent development that may have led them to leadership positions.
Scientists and researchers have long been intrigued by the impact of genetics on the diverse aspects of human lives, and rightfully so. Decades of research and studies have uncovered astounding degrees of impact that genetics has on major pillars of human existence. These range from physical wellness and hereditary gifts to character traits and talent development, all of which govern our major life decisions.
Nature vs. Nurture: A question of genetics vs. environment
The study of identical twins separated early on in their lives has been a pivotal area of research to explore the role of genetics in one's life. Certain physical and behavioral characteristics like height, general intelligence, physical appearance, degree of happiness, and extraversion vs introversion are determined to a large degree by our genetic makeup. But the environment of an individual directs how different genes are 'expressed' according to their lived experience. The age-old question of nature vs. nurture holds; in fact, genetics and environment work cohesively to determine one's course in life.
Genetics and personality/behavior
The question of whether we inherit our behaviors and personality has long confounded researchers. The answer remains - it's complicated. Both genetics and environment influence an individual’s personality; the study of epigenetics establishes that we inherit about 20,000 to 25,000 genes from our parents. However, only some genes are activated or ‘switched on’ depending on our environment.
This has been an exciting development with burgeoning potential for medical discoveries like effectively combating cancer. In his book BluePrint, psychologist Robert Plomin insists, “genetic heritability accounts for 50% of the psychological differences between us, from personality to mental abilities. But that leaves 50% that should be accounted for by the environment.”
However, when one accounts for environmental factors, they largely remain unpredictable and unstable, and thus inadequate to definitively predict personality traits. An understanding of genetics can help us discover our predispositions towards behavioral and mental attitudes, while our environment dictates which of those attitudes translate into our lives.Genetics and physical wellness/health
A larger area of concern with genetics has been the possibility of inheriting trans-generational diseases and mental health disorders. We can then establish impactful ways to mitigate them. Mutations or imperfect copies of parents’ genes can sometimes get passed down as acquired mutations (environmental) or hereditary mutations (inherited). Not all mutations pose danger, but some can predispose people to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cystic fibrosis, among other disorders.
Gaining insight into our genetic makeup can even reveal information about our inherent talents and career options in the sports industry. An exciting study found out that top athletes share not one or few but hundreds of genes in common. Another study discovered that genetic differences are responsible for 72% of the variation in outcomes for people following identical exercises designed to improve muscle strength.
While it is complicated to measure the exact degree of impact of genetics on physical health, one thing remains clear - our genes hold crucial information that directs our state of physical wellness throughout life.
Genetics and Creativity/Talent
A popular theory posits that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. While there may be some degree of truth in this, this theory has been challenged by researchers on account of the inherent talents and affinities of the participants involved. While practice does fuel growth, naturally talented kids might inevitably put in more hours of practice as compared to someone who isn’t naturally inclined towards different creative avenues.
Some studies have associated the neurotransmitter dopamine that governs focus and pleasure, with creativity in individuals. Even so, creativity in humans is a function of a complex neural network and not as simple to decode. A study of 500 twins uncovered that 80 per cent of tone deafness is inherited. Another study discovered genes related to serotonin release, which were linked to musical creativity.
The question is - do we inherit talent and creativity? Neuropsychologist Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg comments on the expansive contemporary research linking creativity and genetics as “both elating and deflating.” Creativity, Goldberg suggests, is a result of a combination of traits, such as novelty-seeking and social behavior.
Genetics and Career Choices
An important area of practical significance of the study of genetics and its impact on human lives is career choices. An access to genetic information can be tremendously insightful for individuals to choose the correct area of study or discipline, job roles. They can, then, even course-correct their career trajectory and accelerate talent development. It does appear that genetics determines some of our mental attributes such as higher affinity to learn new things due to increased neuronal networks.
Several studies have also linked important workplace factors such as job satisfaction, leadership skills, values, work ethic, and temperament to genetics. While the role of the environment remains significant, genetics can provide us crucial keys to our personalities at work, including -
- Our appetite for risk
- Whether we identify as an optimist or a pessimist
- Whether we are introverted or extroverted
- Whether we are dependable and trustworthy
- Whether we are naturally adept at selling
These questions may not direct us to the exact discipline or dream job that we desire but can guide us into making better decisions about our career paths. The fast-evolving times have driven individuals to seek innovative and powerful solutions like Genleap. Genleap combines genomics, astromancy, and psychometrics to help them analyze- cohesively- their inherent nature, current environment. This helps determine these studies’ anticipated impact on their future career and behavior.
With over 25,000 inherited genes coupled with our changing environment, the question of just how much genes impact our lives is overflowing with possibilities. Utilizing important markers and insights revealed by our genetic makeup can help us make transformational changes in our lives. Facilitate better alignment between your interests and natural talents with Genleap.