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.

(note: comments do not require an email. boobies!)

more on astrology nonsense

yes, astrology is bunk. but, like i was saying a couple of weeks ago (prompted by hail’s musings), there might be a little something to it all, i.e. that das folk happened to notice that people born during different times of the year were, on average, kinda different in their personalities.

here’s the sort of thing i’m thinking of — some research from a couple of years ago:

Season of Birth and Dopamine Receptor Gene Associations with Impulsivity, Sensation Seeking and Reproductive Behaviors

Season of birth (SOB) has been associated with many physiological and psychological traits including novelty seeking and sensation seeking. Similar traits have been associated with genetic polymorphisms in the dopamine system. SOB and dopamine receptor genetic polymorphisms may independently and interactively influence similar behaviors through their common effects on the dopaminergic system….

Winter-born males were more sensation seeking than non-winter born males. In factorial models including both genotype and season of birth as variables, two previously unobserved effects were discovered: (1) a SOB×DRD4 interaction effect on venturesomeness and (2) a DRD2×DRD4 interaction effect on sensation seeking.


“These results are consistent with past findings that SOB is related to sensation seeking. Additionally, these results provide tentative support for the hypothesis that SOB modifies the behavioral expression of dopaminergic genetic polymorphism. These findings suggest that SOB should be included in future studies of risky behaviors and behavioral genetic studies of the dopamine system.”

(note: comments do not require an email.)

why east asians aren’t more creative

one of the questions always floating around in the hbd-o-sphere is why aren’t those really clever east asians more creative.

well, kiwiguy over @dennis’ commented the other day:

“Cochran & Harpending discuss a gene associated with ADD & impulsive behaviour in ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion‘:

“‘The polymorphism is found at varying but significant levels in many parts of the world, but is almost entirely absent from East Asia…

“‘The Japanese say that the nail that sticks out is hammered down, but in China it may have been pulled out and thrown away.

Selection for submission to authority sounds unnervingly like domestication…’ (page 112)”

(*hbdchick reaches for her copy of the book*)

yup. kiwiguy is right. says here right on page 112:

“We know of a gene that may play a part in this story: the 7R (for 7-repeat) allele of the DRD4 (dopamine receptor D4) gene. It is associated with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a behavioral syndrome best characterized by actions that annoy elementary school teachers: restless-impulsive behavior, inattention, distractibility, and the like.

“The polymorphism is found at varying but significant levels in many parts of the world, but is almost totally absent from East Asia. Interestingly, alleles derived from the 7R allele are fairly common in China, even though the 7R alleles themselves are extremely rare there. It is possible that individuals bearing these alleles were selected against because of cultural patterns in China. The Japanese say that the nail that sticks out is hammered down, but in China it may have been pulled out and thrown away.”

now here’s an article that i happened to link to in this past sunday’s linkfest:

Creativity is an upside to ADHD

“Parents who believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes their kids more creative got a little more scientific support recently.

“A new study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences found adults with ADHD enjoyed more creative achievement than those who didn’t have the disorder.

“‘For the same reason that ADHD might create problems, like distraction, it can also allow an openness to new ideas,’ says Holly White, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and co-author of the paper. ‘Not being completely focused on a task lets the mind make associations that might not have happened otherwise….'”

so, there you go! low frequencies of adhd genes = low creativity. solved that for ya. ENGLISH BLOKE solved that for ya first. (~_^) ur welcome!

(note: comments do not require an email.)