DNA Day experts answer your questions about DNA/genes and personality

Above: Image © ozgurdonmaz, iStockphoto.com

Is our personality is encoded on our DNA?

It's likely that a proportion of your personality is affected by your DNA code, but it would be false to assume that traits like personality are "hard-wired" by your DNA. Personality has far more to do with your environment - what you're exposed to growing up. We have a hard enough time finding genes involved in eye colour, so it will be a long time before we're explaining people's personalities by looking at their DNA.

- Answer provided by Dr. Sean Myles

Do genes affect personality?

Yes there is a genetic component to personality. . . . but there is likely to be environmental factors that play a role as well. Scientists are just at the tip of the iceberg for this field of study.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac

How do genetics affect an individual's personality?

That's a very complicated question. You'd have to say that yes, genes do affect personality, because you can see examples, like say, autism where genes are clearly involved; on the other hand, you and your friends have different personalities but we don't know enough about the human genome yet to be able to go through your genes and say, "Yes. Right here, this is one of the genes that makes you different."

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture?

It's clear that both have a significant influence, though I think it'd be hard to quantify generally for such a nebulous and qualitative concept as "personality". Sorry if that sounds like a cop-out, but the key point is that it doesn't have to be just one or the other.

- Answer provided by Dr. Paul Gordon


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