genetics and nat’l differences in life history strategies

via ben southwood, here’s an interesting looking paper from the journal Personality and Individual Differences: “Genetic polymorphisms predict national differences in life history strategy and time orientation” [pdf]. (the paper’s even from the future! April 2015. (~_^) )

the “highlights”:

• Polymorphisms in three genes have been linked to aspects of life-history strategy.
• National frequencies of these polymorphisms form a strong single genetic factor.
• The genetic factor is strongly associated with national differences in life-history strategy.
• This association remains after controlling for national socioeconomic differences.

the three genes in question are some of the usual suspects: the androgen receptor gene (AR), DRD4, and the 5-HTTLPR in the SLC6A4 gene. the authors, minkov and bond, worked up a national genetic index based on the variations of these three genes as they relate to life history strategies (LHS) and time orientation (TO). they describe LHS and TO thusly:

“Life history strategy (LHS) theory explains differences in the allocation of an individual’s total bioenergetic and material resources between somatic effort (devoted to the survival of the individual) and reproductive effort (devoted to the production of offspring), as well as parenting effort (devoted to the survival of offspring) and mating effort (devoted to obtaining and retaining sexual partners) (Figueredo et al., 2005). Fast LHS (a focus on reproductive and mating effort) is positively associated with risktaking in animals (Ackerman, Eadie, & Moore, 2006) and humans (Figueredo et al., 2005). In addition to the individual-level studies, a number of nation-level measures associated with LHS have been proposed, relying mostly on national statistics about reproduction, violent crime, and cognitive ability or educational attainment (Meisenberg & Woodley, 2013; Minkov, 2013; Rushton & Templer, 2009; Templer, 2008).

“Some different studies (Hofstede, 2001; Minkov & Hofstede, 2012a) discuss a nation-level short-term versus long-term orientation dimension (STO versus LTO or simply TO for ‘time orientation’), derived from measures of values originally proposed by the Chinese Culture Connection (1987). According to these studies, TO reflects national differences in the endorsement of a wide range of values, some of which are especially prominent and seem to form the backbone of this dimension: future-related values (such as thrift and strong effort in modern education) versus a lack of emphasis on such values. The former set of values is known as long-term orientation, whereas the latter is called short-term orientation (Hofstede, 2001).”

what they found was that:

Nations that score lower on the LHSGF [Life History Strategy Genetic Factor] are characterized by faster LHS and shorter TO. The reason for this association is that these nations have relatively high percentages of people who carry AR, DRD4, and 5-HTTLPR polymorphisms that seem to stimulate risk-taking, impulsivity, and short-term-oriented mating competition (expressed as a tendency for earlier sexual initiation, sexual networking, and violence, in specific circumstances). The effect of the LHSGF on hypometropia-LHS seems stronger across societies with high socioeconomic inequality.”

minkov and bond - life history strategy - genetic factor index

minkov and bond - time orientation - genetic factor index

mr. billare objects to the paper on the grounds that, in some cases where data were lacking, the authors estimated the frequencies of the alleles based on the rates found in neighboring populations — neighboring populations that, perhaps, aren’t all that related to those for which there were no available data. that is not ideal, i agree — for example, estimating the national frequency of the DRD4 7-repeat for venezuela based on mexico’s frequency is…questionable. but i don’t think that their reference populations (i.e. the neighboring populations) which they used are that far off in most of the cases — at least not from a first glance at the paper. still, not ideal. definitely a weakness of the study.

my biggest objection to the paper is that’s we’re just talking about three genes here — there must be waaaay more genes related to behavioral traits involved here, as there are with height or intelligence. the authors acknowledge this, though: “[N]ational/ethnic LHS-TO may be driven by a large package of genes, each of which produces a very small effect at the individual level (and, in some cases, no effect at all); however they produce a large cumulative effect at the national level. It is therefore quite possible that our LHSGF index is actually a proxy for a much larger package of genes….

it’s early days, of course, and teh scientists simply just don’t know even half of the genes involved in our behavioral traits at this point in time. Further Research is RequiredTM! it’ll certainly be exciting when more data arrives! (^_^) this is an intriguing first step, though.

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who wants sharia?

pew has just released the results of their latest survey of muslims around the world (in 39 different countries).

here’s a map showing the percentage of muslims in each country that would like sharia to be the law of their land (click on map for LARGER image – should take you to the pew site):

who wants sharia - pew 2013

the iraqs, afghanis, and pakistanis all seem pretty eager for sharia — they’re all in the 75-100% range. the moroccans, too. and the palestinian territories.

this is a large report from pew, so have a look at the whole thing yourself.

here’s something else that i found particularly interesting:

honor killings permissible - pew 2013

of the countries that think that honor killing is more justified when women commit an offense than when men do — russia, albania, azerbaijan, bangladesh, pakistan, jordan, iraq, egypt, lebanon, tunisia, and the palestinian territories — a majority of them (7 out of 11) have a preference for father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) marriage — pakistan, jordan, iraq, egypt, lebanon, tunisia, and the palestinian territories.

i don’t know what, if any, form of cousin marriage is preferred in azerbaijan or bangladesh. paternal cousin marriage, which would include fbd marriage, is avoided in places like chechnya and (at least among some peoples in) dagestan (russia in this survey?) and albania. the difference in the responses in albania was not very great (+1 point), but the difference in russia(?) was statistically significant at +7 points. it’s difficult to know who these “russian” muslims are (maybe the info is in an appendix somewhere — i’ll have to look), so i don’t know if they’re the chechens and/or some dagestanis and/or some other group(s) — and, so, i don’t know what their mating patterns are.

i’m surprised that afghanistan breaks even. i would’ve predicted that they would be like the other fbd marriage groups.

it’s interesting that some of the central asian “stans” — kyrgyzstan and uzbekistan — swing in the opposite direction. a greater number of people feel that honor killings are more justified against men who break the rules than women. i don’t know much of anything about these populations, but i did read a bit just the other day, and it seems that they have a preference for maternal cousin marriage. (note that i don’t have a good idea what the rates might be.)

previously: inclusive inclusive fitness

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linkfest – 10/14/12

today, some classics (and soon-to-be classics?):

Latitude, elevation and the tempo of molecular evolution in mammals“[B]ecause climatic variables change with latitude and elevation in a similar manner, our results suggest that climate has influenced the tempo of genetic change in mammals…. These findings provide new insights into microevolution that are likely to have important implications for understanding global patterns of biodiversity and diversification.”

An Asian perspective on early human dispersal from Africa“Asia might not have been the passive recipient of whatever migrated out of Africa but might have been a major donor to speciation events, as well as dispersals back into Africa. Such two-way traffic is well documented for other mammals in the Pliocene and Early Pleistocene, such as Equus and bovids, with more taxa migrating into than out of Africa. There is no reason why hominin migrations were always from Africa into Asia, and movements in the opposite direction might also have occurred, as has been suggested for the Olduvai OH9 (refs 13, 58) and Daka specimens. We should even allow for the possibility that H. ergaster originated in Asia and perhaps explain its lack of an obvious east African ancestry as the result of immigration rather than a short (and undocumented) process of anagenetic (in situ) evolution (Dennell and Roebroeks 2005:1100-1101).” – see also: Did Early Humans First Arise in Asia, Not Africa?

Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution“It is sometimes claimed that the pace of human evolution should have slowed as cultural adaptation supplanted genetic adaptation…. Cultural changes have reduced mortality rates, but variance in reproduction has continued to fuel genetic change. In our view, the rapid cultural evolution during the Late Pleistocene created vastly more opportunities for further genetic change, not fewer, as new avenues emerged for communication, social interactions, and creativity.” – hawks, wang, cochran, harpending & moyzis.

Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: An Approach from Evolutionary Genetics [opens pdf] – w.d. hamilton.

How obedience of marriage rules may counteract genetic drift“Continuous unilateral or bilateral cross-cousin mating, reflecting the most common form of prescribed marriage, increases homozygosity but at the same time slows down considerably the loss of gene diversity due to genetic drift.”

It’s All Relative: Race as partly inbred extended family – from steve sailer.

Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy [opens pdf] – “In popular articles that play down the genetical differences among human populations, it is often stated that about 85% of the total genetical variation is due to individual differences within populations and only 15% to differences between populations or ethnic groups. … This conclusion, due to R.C. Lewontin in 1972, is unwarranted because the argument ignores the fact that most of the information that distinguishes populations is hidden in the correlation structure of the data and not simply in the variation of the individual factors.”

Discerning the Ancestry of European Americans in Genetic Association Studies“Here we mine much larger datasets (more markers and more samples) to identify a panel of 300 highly ancestry-informative markers which accurately distinguish not just northwest and southeast European, but also Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.”

Genes predict village of origin in rural Europe“After excluding close kin and inbreeding, village of origin could still be predicted correctly on the basis of genetic data for 89–100% of individuals.”

E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century [opens pdf] – “New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to ‘hunker down’. Trust (even of one’s own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.” – robert putnam.

The Misguided Advocates of Open Borders“Rising diversity within human societies tends to drive people apart, causing them to take sanctuary in individual pursuits and ethnic communities. The practical consequences are reduced public altruism or social capital, evident in falling volunteerism, government welfare for the aged and sick, public health care and a general loss of trust. Ethnic diversity is second only to lack of democracy in predicting civil war. Globally it correlates negatively with governmental efficiency and prosperity.” – frank salter.

Why g Matters: The Complexity of Everyday Life [opens pdf] – linda gottfredson.

State IQ estimates (2009) – from the awesome epigone.

Inbreeding depression and IQ in a study of 72 countries [opens pdf]. see also Consanguinity and national IQ scores.

American Murder Mystery“Why is crime rising in so many American cities? The answer implicates one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent decades.” – h/t anonymous.

bonus: Ethnic differences: Variation in human testis Size – jared diamond.

bonus bonus: Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa

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linkfest – 07/08/12

Genes May Play Role in Educational Achievement, Study Finds“Researchers have identified genetic markers that may influence whether a person finishes high school and goes on to college, according to a national longitudinal study of thousands of young Americans…. The three genes identified in the study – DAT1, DRD2 and DRD4 – have been linked to behaviors such as attention regulation, motivation, violence, cognitive skills and intelligence, according to the study.”

Racial bias colours visual perception“Prejudiced people slowest to recognize faces from other races.” – or maybe people who are slowest to recognize faces from other races are the most “prejudiced”?

Cross-national IQ, inequality, and homicide – from the inductivist.

Research shows endowment effect in chimpanzees can be turned on and off“‘These results strongly support the idea that the endowment effect reflects the deep influence of evolutionary processes – notably natural selection – on psychological predispositions that affect how brains ascribe value to objects.'”

A scientific study reveals that individuals cooperate according to their emotional state and their prior experiences“[P]eople do not act thinking in their own reward, as had been previously believed, but rather individuals are more influenced by their own mood at the time and by the number of individuals with whom they have cooperated before.”

Baby makers scorn porn? – from the awesome epigone.

Chronic pain is determined by emotions, scientists believe“The more emotionally the brain reacted to the initial injury, the more likely it was that pain will persist after the injury has healed, he said. Prof Apakarian added: ‘It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited to begin with in certain individuals, or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level.'”

‘Cat ladies’ more likely to commit suicide, scientists claim“Researchers found women infected with the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, which is spread through contact with cat faeces or eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables, are at increased risk of attempting suicide.”

Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may share common underlying factors, study suggests“New research led by a medical geneticist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine points to an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among individuals whose parents or siblings have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.”

O Brother, Who Art Thou? – review of Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study.

23andMe Contributes to Genetic Discoveries Related to Breast Size and Breast Cancer“23andMe … has identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) significantly associated with breast size, including three SNPs also correlated with breast cancer in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) now published online in BMC Medical Genetics. These findings make the first concrete genetic link between breast size and breast cancer risks.” – they looked at data from women of european ancestry.

Researchers Find a Brain Center for Social Choices“Poker-playing subjects seen weighing whether to bluff.”

bonus: the higgs! (maybe/probably)

bonus bonus: The ‘appetite-suppressing’ effect of proteins explained

bonus bonus bonus: Plants that feed on animals underground discovered“Three species of carnivorous plant that feed on worms underground have been discovered in the Brazilian savannah.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Women ‘deliberately post ugly photos of friends online’ – heh.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Dogs May Mourn as Deeply as Humans Do – dogs are people, too.

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