Are Your Genes Choosing Your Friends?


The seeds for this type of research were first planted several years ago in another study also published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that genes influence how many friends a person has and how central that person is to their network of friends.

Fowler said they aimed to expand those findings by looking at "homophily" -- or as he explains it, "a word that literally means love of like."

"We tend to make friends with people that are like us," he said.

So they began by hypothesizing that certain friendships weren't a case of being socially similar, but biologically, "even genetically similar to us."

This type of research, he said, has really picked up in the last 10 years or so. Before that, he said, scientists were primarily focused on researching genes and connecting that to the individual's behavior.

Now, he said, a whole world of new research possibilities is opening up as more evidence surfaces that chemistry may be more than just a feeling.

But McCandless noted that although the findings are interesting, this topic is far from resolved.

"There's still much work that would need to happen before we're ready to say that we know the specific gene that makes you really good at talking to people at cocktail parties."

And, as Fowler pointed out, these linked genes will never replace free will.

"Genes are not destiny and information is power" he said. "Getting information about your genes can help you figure out what you should work harder on."

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