No friends? Blame your genes

No friends? Blame your genes

Genetics may help determine whether you're the center of social circles or lurking at the edges.
source-image
Feb 18, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Some of us are social butterflies who seem to know everybody. Others of us prefer the quiet corners of life. Either way, a new study says our genes make us do it.

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, believe there’s a genetic component in the formation and configuration of social networks. Comparing identical twins to fraternal twins, the study authors found that both popularity—or the number of times a person was named as a friend—and the likelihood that those friends knew one another were strongly heritable.

Strangely enough, viruses and bacteria may be the evolutionary reason for genetic propensities to be either in the thick of social life or hovering at the edges. If a deadly germ spreads through a community, the least social individuals are least likely to be exposed. So, the researchers posit, it would always be a good thing to have some social outliers when contagious disease strikes. Being in the social circle, however, would be beneficial in sharing information, like the best places to hunt or gather food.

“It may be that natural selection is acting on things like whether or not we can resist the common cold, but also who it is that we are going to come into contact with,” says study co-author James Fowler.

Hot topics on dvm360

Vetcetera: The complex topic of canine fear-related aggression

A guided tour of resources for addressing this popular and complicated subject, featuring advice from Dr. John Ciribassi.

Reality TV and the veterinarian: Discussing mainstream dog training advice with clients

Your clients may be getting behavior advice from cable TV. Get your opinion in the mix.

Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

7 steps to a better relationship between veterinarians and rescue groups

A DVM in the city shares his advice to veterinary practices for working with rescues.

The war between shelters, veterinarians needs to end

Despite practitioners’ legitimate gripes, they’re hurting themselves.