Is cheating in the genes?

By Debbie Dot

People who cheat on their partners may do it because it is in their genes, a new study has found.

Scientists at State University of New York have discovered that sexual behaviour could be influenced by the presence of the same gene that has been linked to alcohol use and gambling.

Lead researcher Justin Garcia discovered that an internal drive for a ‘rush’ of dopamine could explain why some people seem incapable of remaining faithful.

Garcia said, ‘What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one night stands and acts of infidelity.

The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward, which is where the release of dopamine comes in.

In cases of uncommitted sex, the risks are high, the rewards substantial and the motivation variable – all elements that ensure a dopamine ‘rush.’

DRD4 has already been linked to alcoholism and gambling addiction and other risk-taking behaviour.

The study of the DNA and sexual history of 181 young adults found that those with the DRD4 variant were twice as likely to have a one-night stand than those without it.

The researchers say the study is the first evidence that someone could want a committed long-term relationship but still find themselves being unfaithful.

They also say it suggests that it makes it possible to feel committed for a partner – but still cheat on them.

The need for a dopamine rush can operate independently from the need for commitment and romantic attachment, the study said.

Garcia said, ‘The study doesn’t let transgressors off the hook. These relationships are associative, which means that not everyone with this genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity.

‘Indeed, many people without this genotype still have one-night stands and commit infidelity. The study merely suggests that a much higher proportion of those with this genetic type are likely to engage in these behaviours.’

He added, ‘These genes do not give anyone an excuse, but they do provide a window into how our biology shapes our propensities for a wide variety of behaviours.’.

The team intend to run a similar study that looks at a  wider sample of adults.

Last month, scientists found that the same strain of the DRD4 gene can also make people have more liberal views.

Because the genetic variant drives people to seek out ‘novelty’, it can also make people more likely to seek out less conventional political views, the U.S. study found.

Those with the gene supposedly seek out other people’s points of view and are influenced by them far more than those without the gene.

In the U.S. this mean that people with the gene were more likely to have a liberal political viewpoint.


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