Thursday, March 15, 2012
Cultural stereotypes may be deep rooted in our genetic makeup, say scientists
Common traits like British individualism and Chinese conformity could be attributed to genetic differences between races according to a new study. The study suggests that the individualism seen in western nations, and the higher levels of collectivism and family loyalty found in Asian cultures, are caused by differences in the prevalence of particular genes. The scientists have demonstrate a robust association between cultural values of individualism–collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene. The researchers focused their attentions on the gene that controls levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which regulates mood and emotions. Their studies found that one version of the gene was far more common in western populations which was associated with individualistic and free-thinking behavior. Another version of the same gene, which was prevalent in Asian populations, was associated with collectivism and a greater willingness to put the common good first. People with this gene appeared to have a different response to serotonin. The findings suggest that races may have a number of inherent psychological differences — just as they differ in physical appearances.