The Phoenix

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The 'Lonely Gene?'

We know that many of our physical characteristics are inherited traits, such as our hair color or predisposition to heart disease. But how about personality traits? Can someone inherit the likelihood of being very outgoing and popular? Environment, I'm sure plays a huge part in the shaping of such attributes. Recently, researchers at the University of Chicago have found that people can inherit the predisposition to being lonely.

Researchers found that 50% of identical twins and 25% of fraternal twins shared this loneliness trait. They studied over 8,000 twins over a period of 14 years. Their findings showed a pretty strong correlation between sharing the same genes and environment and having feelings of being lonely.

"An interesting implication of this research is that feelings of loneliness may reflect an innate emotional response to stimulus conditions over which an individual may have little or no control," the research team writes in their article in the journal Behavior Genetics.

Why put so much study into loneliness? There's been a lot of research linking strong feelings of being lonely with physical illnesses such as coronary disease.

What about environment? What role does that play? "A caring environment can help lonely people overcome their feelings, but the research also shows that in some cases, the impact of heredity is stronger, said Cacioppo, a professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago.

They believe the trait of loneliness might have developed from early hunter gatherers being undernurished and not wanting to share food with the rest of the group. It was a case of having to survive famine - they learned to adapt by acting on feelings of anxiety, anti-social behavior, and distancing themselves from the rest - in order to get through the lean times.

I'm sure genetics plays a major role in setting the foundation for our personality traits, like loneliness. I also believe environment is crucial in shaping it. There are plenty of reasons people feel lonely. Some of them are things the lonely person DOES have some control over, however. Here are few, just off the top of my head:

Grumpy: Maybe you're just an angry cranky jackass. Anyone that tries to do something nice for you is sure to be subjected to a harsh look and some pretty mean-spirited words. Nothing makes you happy...except maybe watching others suffer. You are sadistic and take pleasure in making people cry. You're lonely because you are a mean person. You really deserve to be lonely, and you deserve having a flaming bag of dog poop flung onto your doorstep.

Bad habits: Perhaps you have flatulence issues or you pick your nose. Why would anyone want to hang around you? You're disgusting, and your behavior is that of a preschooler. No, I don't want to watch you roll up your booger into a ball and see how far you can flick it. I have no desire, and neither would anyone else. You'll never make friends.

Odorus Maximus: You stink. You wreak, you smell, you make my eyebrows fall out. No one wants to be around you because you smell bad. If you don't scrub your armpits while showering, all your doing is watering the nice stinky bacteria. Oh wait, you don't shower unless it's the 13th of that month. Maybe that's your problem. And no, just putting deodorant doesn't cut it. Now you smell like pine-sol mixed with ripe arm pit...put down that bottle of axe spray and get a shower - and then get another one, followed by another one. Scrub until you can't scrub no more.

Mouth Decay: Your mouth is a disgusting sesspool of bacteria. Gingivitis, severe hallitosis, and rotting teeth - that's why you're lonely. Everytime you open your mouth, it's like sticking your head into a sewer and taking a big whiff. With every word you say, you're releasing deadly gases into the atmosphere. Buy a toothbrush, some toothpaste, and Listerine. Brush your teeth for a week straight. You're lonely because no one wants to be around the smell of rotten eggs - especially when it's coming from someone's mouth.

Weirdo Geeko: You love Star Trek, maybe Lord of the Rings, and you are lonely because you are an alien among humans. You live in a fantasy world in order to avoid the real one. The computer is your best friend, and you chat online all the time to talk to your "friends" that wouldn't want anything to do with you if they were to meet you in person. You are anti-social and would rather worry about what costume to wear for the next sci-fi convention instead of how to get out and make some friends. Get your head out of the photon torpedo tube, and learn to socialize. If Mr. Sulu has the guts to finally confess he's gay, then you should have the guts to leave your parents' basement and talk to real people.

I wonder if sarcasm is an inherited trait as well...


Blogger Grafs said...

I have to say grumpy people bug me the most. Why do people have to be such asses?

11/12/2005 4:35 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Have you ever done any studying about 'Heredity vs. Environment'? I would love to see you post something about it.

A lonely gene explains a bunch. How a person could be completely surrounded by people and still feel alone.

Interesting stuff.

11/13/2005 7:01 AM  
Blogger Free at Last! said...

I am adopted,as was my "brother",we both have the same "sign" for those who belive in that crap,and two people could not be more different,although we both grew up to be alcoholics,he the miserable wife beating type,me the fun loveing love women to much type,that is as far as the similarties go.This speaks to genetics as a factor I believe.
Hope the wee guy is okay.
I to believe in choices,God shows us pathways,but which road we take are our own.I just kept taking the wrong ones uintil I stopped and asked Him directions!
My very first post at AND FROM THE ASHES is entitled Phoenix.Of course that is nothing but coincidence.

11/13/2005 8:47 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I know a lot of the weirdo geeko types from working in theatre. Some of them actually learn to adapt to social situations and come in handy when only a geek can answer a question like "what was it that Han Solo was smuggling on the Millenium Falcon?".

They also leave themselves wide open for ridicule when for example, they say things like "If it doesn't have Star or Wars in the title, then I haven't seen it." You gotta love the geeks!

11/13/2005 1:43 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

What was Han Solo smuggling on the Millenium Falcon?

Spices, from the spice mines of Kessel. He did the run in less than 12 parsecs.

I guess I'm a geek too!

11/13/2005 1:59 PM  
Blogger NowhereGirl said...

I think that the gift of sarcasm could certianly be included on your list! Where's your pic??? ~chuckle~ ;-)

11/13/2005 3:55 PM  
Blogger Mojotek said...

Guess I never really thought of the 'loneliness' gene being something created out of a survival instinct in early man. Sort of makes sense though... I mean, I'm off to hoard my 'Fun Size' Snickers and chat with all my close friends online. Anyone up for a game of D&D?

11/13/2005 5:18 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

lol Im with Grafs...I dislike grumpy ppl and ppl who show no emotions...I only feel like shutting their faces off for good :)

I strongly believe that our personalities depend alot on the genes we inherit. Alot of ppl say Im just like my mum, very out-going, funny, stubborn and talkative..whereas my sis is just like my dad in all no need of studies to prove that :)


11/13/2005 8:28 PM  
Blogger HW said...

i'm pretty sure sarcasm is a genetic trait. i give you my entire family as living proof.

11/14/2005 7:26 AM  
Blogger grrrbear said...

What about stupidity? Is that genetic or just a result of bad schools and too much reality television?

Smelly people I can avoid, the geeks I usually get along with, and grumpy people I can walk away from - but the idiots keep following me everywhere I go.

11/14/2005 10:02 AM  
Blogger Ann Alsex said...

I have another reason for lonliness. Moobs.

11/14/2005 10:12 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Mr. Sulu is gay?! Damn, why is it always the hot guys? Wait... did I just out myself as a geek? I swear... I don't have a Star Trek costume.

"Maybe you're just an angry cranky jackass..." Too funny!

11/14/2005 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarcasm is without a doubt an inherited trait. No one learn how to be sarcastic. You either are or you aren't. Don't try to fake it.

11/14/2005 12:19 PM  
Blogger cube said...

Hey, Weirdo Geeko is hitting nervously close to home. Oh yeah, er, um, satire. Gotta love it.

11/14/2005 12:50 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

I, unfotunately am a Wierdo Geeko. But I'm happy so I guess I don't have to change.

11/14/2005 1:08 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

Weirdo Geeko - LOL! Very nice ha ha

11/14/2005 4:16 PM  

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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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