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Genetic Influences On Social Behavior

  • By: Richard I. Kaplan, Alison M. Kramer & Jenae M. Neiderhiser
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)

Why do people act the way they do? There is no simple answer to this question, because social behaviors, like all human characteristics, are influenced by multiple factors. The two most basic influences on social behavior are genes (the chemical instructions that people inherit from their parents' DNA) and the environment (all other, noninherited factors).

Contrary to a common misconception, genes do not cause behavioral or personality traits, they only influence them. Although genes may be linked to certain traits, it is unlikely that researchers will ever find a single gene that is entirely responsible for most complicated behaviors. First, each gene is not linked to one and only one trait; one gene may influence many different personality characteristics. In addition, many genes work in concert ...

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