Many people know about single-gene disorders, but few of us know that these conditions are actually much less common than the numerous disorders that result from the relationship between multiple genes and the environment.
Even with single-gene disorders in which a mutation in one gene leads to the condition, it is often the case that modifier genes contribute to the severity of the disease. So, reports suggesting that scientists have found the individual gene responsible for a particular behavioural trait such as alcoholism, or sexual orientation for example is misleading because this ignores the effect of these modifier genes.
In reality human behaviours are the result of multiple genes interacting with numerous environmental factors. Awareness of this complexity has shifted researchers’ focus from individual genes to entire genomes, giving rise to the field of behavioural genomics. Behavioural genetics as it’s called, is the study of environmental and genetic influences on behaviours.
We know children’s behaviour traits aren’t always down to their parents. By us being able to examine genetic influences, we can glean more information about how the environment operates and will affect children’s behaviour.
Other factors include:
- Our grand-parents’ genes;
- Human nature.
It is only when you look at and equate a child’s behaviour you see different character and personality traits from our grandparent’s genes.
Our genes and environment play a big part in understanding and uncovering human behaviour. With this new information, it is important we take the time to understand exactly how behaviour works and know that children’s behaviour isn’t always down to our parenting. Other factors also include, luck and human nature.
It doesn’t always help us, but it does bring about understanding. It would be up to our children to understand their own behaviour and work to change some of those character traits.