Do genes really determine behaviour?

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In summary, there is currently no evidence that behaviour is determined by genes. While genes can influence behaviour, it is not a direct cause. The idea of a single gene controlling a specific behaviour has been hyped in the media, but scientific research has shown that behaviours are much more complex and involve multiple genetic factors. It is likely that behaviours are controlled by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
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PIT2
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From the blog "only a game":

Let me reiterate this point, as it is crucial: a gene codes for a protein, or it affects the production of proteins. There is nothing else we currently know of that a gene does.

Why, then, is there such talk of a genetic basis of behaviour? Because if behaviour is rooted in genetics, either we are saying that a protein produces behaviour (which we shall see shortly is absurd), or we are claiming that behaviour emerges somehow from genes in a manner we don’t understand and cannot currently prove – at which point the honest scientific position is to admit that we do not know how behaviour is inherited.

Is it true that an unknown (and currently unprovable) process is involved in the relation between genes and behaviour?
Are there any ideas what this proces might be?

And:

The bottom line is that while virtually all behaviour can be influenced by genes, there is no evidence that behaviour is determined by genes. There is no gay gene, no gene for intelligence, no gene for violence, no gene for reliability, no gene for amiability… there is no gene for any behaviour, neither does it seem likely that any such gene will be found. Errors in genes can cause specific medical conditions (which have behaviours associated with them), as with Down’s syndrome for instance, but that is as far as the body of research currently goes.

In 1994, the journal Science published an article by Charles Mann entitles Genes and Behaviour which contained this apposite quote:

Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated. "Unfortunately," says Yale's [Dr. Joel] Gelernter, "it's hard to come up with many findings linking specific genes to complex human behaviors that have been replicated. "...All were announced with great fanfare; all were greeted unskeptically in the popular press; all are now in disrepute.

Is it true that findings that link behaviour to genes are hardly ever replicated? If so why are they hyped so much?
 
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PIT2 said:
Is it true that an unknown (and currently unprovable) process is involved in the relation between genes and behaviour?
Are there any ideas what this proces might be?
i doubt its that unknowbale. It is just complex. And most likely some behavioural attributes are less complicated than others.

First of all you have to consider what a behaviour is physiologically. behaviours come from the brain, and behaviours can be manipulated from manipulating the brain directly. It has been experimentally shown that you can make people find something funny by stimulating a part of the brain for instance.

So the brain controls our behaviours with electrical gradients and chemicals. These chemicals interact with brain cells which have been designed from our genes. The easiest example of programmed behaviour for me is that of the adrenaliln junky. It has been demonstrated that some people react negatively to fear, while others embrace it. this reaction (behaviour) is based upon how their brain cells react to seratonin (if I recall correctly). the point being that that reaction would absolutely be ontrolled by genetic factors in the construction of the brain. just because we have not yet discovered exactly what genetic factors combine to create that behaviour does not mean they are not genetically designed.

PIT2 said:
Is it true that findings that link behaviour to genes are hardly ever replicated? If so why are they hyped so much?

they are hyped because people can associate with the one behaviour one gene concept. it is simple for them to absorb and makes for good press.

obviously, experimentally, the truth has been very different (as I would have expected could have been assumed) and the behaviours of an animal as complicated as us (or any mammal) are rarely if ever controlled by a single genetic factor.

I think it would be absurd to expect something as variable as behaviour (think of all of the differences between humans!) to be controlled by one gene in a 'yes' 'no' setup. of COURSE it is a consequence of many variable factors!
 
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The question of whether genes truly determine behavior is a complex and ongoing debate in the scientific community. While it is true that genes primarily code for proteins and do not directly cause behavior, it is also important to consider the role of gene expression and environmental factors in shaping behavior.

It is not accurate to say that there is no evidence linking behavior to genes. There have been numerous studies that have found correlations between certain genetic variations and behavior, such as the genetic predisposition for certain mental disorders or the influence of genes on personality traits. However, it is important to note that these correlations do not necessarily equate to causation. There are many other factors at play, such as environmental influences and individual experiences, that also contribute to behavior.

The blog post brings up a valid point about the lack of replication in studies linking behavior to genes. It is true that there have been instances where initial findings were not able to be replicated in subsequent studies. This could be due to a number of factors, including small sample sizes, flawed research methods, or the complexity of behavior itself.

So why are these findings still hyped up in the media? It could be due to the sensationalism and oversimplification of complex scientific concepts. The media often presents these findings as definitive answers to complex questions, when in reality they are just one small piece of a much larger puzzle.

In conclusion, while genes do play a role in shaping behavior, they are not the sole determining factor. The interplay between genes, environment, and individual experiences is what ultimately shapes our behavior. It is important to approach the topic with a critical and open-minded perspective, rather than making definitive statements about the influence of genes on behavior.
 

1. What exactly are genes and how do they influence behavior?

Genes are segments of DNA that contain instructions for the development, functioning, and maintenance of an organism. These instructions can influence behavior by affecting the structure and function of the brain, as well as the production of certain proteins and hormones that can impact behavior.

2. Can genes be solely responsible for a person's behavior?

No, genes are not the only factor that determines behavior. Environmental and social factors also play a significant role in shaping behavior. While genes may predispose individuals to certain behaviors, it is ultimately the interaction between genes and the environment that influences behavior.

3. How much of behavior is determined by genes?

It is difficult to determine an exact percentage, as it varies depending on the behavior and the individual. However, research suggests that genetics can account for approximately 40-60% of the variance in behavior.

4. Can genes be changed or altered to change behavior?

While genes themselves cannot be changed, their expression and influence on behavior can be altered through environmental factors, such as diet, exercise, and social interactions. This field of study is known as epigenetics.

5. Are there specific genes that determine certain behaviors?

While there are some genes that have been linked to certain behaviors, such as the MAOA gene and aggressive behavior, it is not accurate to say that a single gene can determine a specific behavior. Many behaviors are influenced by multiple genes and their interactions with the environment.

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