The Genetic Predisposition to Focus on the Negative

Posted on October 23, 2013

Some people are genetically predisposed to spot negative events automatically, according to a new study published in Psychological Science (Todd et al., 2013).

A gene called ADRA2b seems to cause people to take particular note of negative emotional events.

The study’s lead author, Professor Rebecca Todd explained:

“This is the first study to find that this genetic variation can significantly affect how people see and experience the world. The findings suggest people experience emotional aspects of the world partly through gene-coloured glasses — and that biological variations at the genetic level can play a significant role in individual differences in perception.”

The study used a phenomenon called ‘attentional blink‘ and involved participants looking at a series of positive, negative and neutral emotional words. Those who had the ADRA2b gene variant were more likely to perceive the negative emotional words than those without it.

Positive emotion words, though, were perceived by those with and without the gene to the same degree.

This could help explain why it is that some people seem particularly predisposed towards seeing the negative aspects of the world around them, while it passes others by.

Click on the link below to read the full article


Source material from PsyBlog


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