Wednesday, March 20, 2019
The Genes Behind Thrill-Seekers
A connection between genetics and daredevil activities was always predicted, but never proved until a study done by Canadian scientist Cynthia Thomson. This scientist brought together two sample sizes of people: one sample size being about 100, and the second being about 400. The second sample was a replication of the first one. In each sample, the test subjects were given two questionnaires to fill out, and their DNA was swabbed. One questionnaire tested for daredevil tendencies, and the other questionnaire tested for standard personality traits. A high combined scored on the questionnaires would indicate more risky character. It was found in the highest-scoring individuals that many had a variant in the DRD4 gene, which is believed to be connected to the dopamine receptors in the brain and affects risky behavior. It was therefore found that individuals with a variant in the DRD4 gene have a tendency to seek more thrill than others, because they need more stimuli in order to reach their optimal level of excitement.
It seems that a lot of things can be explained by genes. The fact that some people are thrill-seekers, and the fact that others aren’t--this can be explained by the DRD4 gene. It makes me wonder if a penchant for spicy food or horror movies can be explained by genes as well. I find it amazing how so many parts of our lives can be explained by genes. What would have previously been thought of as a personality trait is actually something passed down through generations. To be honest, it scares me to think that so many of the things humans do are explained by genes. People would want to think that they are the way they are because they are uniquely themselves, and that they are mostly responsible for the person they are. While things such as overall personality, beliefs, and speech patterns are solely the creation of each individual, it is daunting to believe that many aspects of one’s life are out of one’s control.