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Genetic predisposition

A genetic predisposition is a genetic effect which influences the phenotype of an organism but which can be modified by the environmental conditions. Genetic testing is able to identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain health problems.



Predisposition is the capacity we are born with to learn things such as language and concept of self. Negative environmental influences may block the predisposition (ability) we have to do some things. Behaviors displayed by animals can be influenced by genetic predispositions. Genetic predisposition towards certain human behaviors is scientifically investigated by attempts to identify patterns of human behavior that seem to be invariant over long periods of time and in very different cultures. For example, philosopher Daniel Dennett has proposed that humans are genetically predisposed to have a Theory of mind because there has been evolutionary selection for the human ability to adopt the Intentional stance[1]. The intentional stance is a useful behavioral strategy by which humans assume that others have minds like their own. This assumption allows you to predict the behavior of others based on personal knowledge of what you would do.

Powerful evidence for genetic predispositions towards certain patterns of human behavior comes from twin studies. The idea that human behavior can have a genetic basis has become controversial due to religious and politically-inspired positions with respect to common human behaviors such as homosexuality.

Genetic discrimination in health insurance

In the United States, individuals are at risk for loss of health insurance if they are discovered to have genetic predispositions for health problems. The National Center for Genome Resources found that 85 percent of those polled think employers should not have access to information about their employees' genetic conditions, risks or predispositions[2]. The U.S. federal government has so far taken only limited measures against discrimination based on genetic testing[3].


  1. ^  The results of this survey are discussed here (January 20, 1998).
  2. ^  A summary of U.S.A. executive orders and proposed legislation is compiled by the National Center for Genome Resources.
  3. ^  The Intentional Stance (MIT Press; Reprint edition 1989) (ISBN 0-262-54053-3)

See also

  • Human nature.
  • E. O. Wilson's book on sociobiology and his book Consilience discuss the idea of genetic predisposition to behaviors.
  • The field of evolutionary psychology explores the idea that certain behaviors have been selected for during the course of evolution.
  • The nature versus nurture debate.
  • Behavioral genetics.
  • Predispositioning Theory.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Genetic_predisposition". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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