‘Gloomy’ gene may make you more positive
IS THE glass half full or half empty? A gene variant usually considered to make people more gloomy could also help them see the positive.
To explore further, Elaine Fox at the University of Essex in Colchester, UK, and colleagues asked 62 people with the short variant and 54 with the long version to perform computer exercises that tested how quickly they could identify a target superimposed either on a positive or negative image shown side by side. Unknown to the volunteers, in some exercises the team always flashed the target either on the positive or the negative image.
People with the short variant adapted to this unconscious bias, identifying the target 40 to 60 milliseconds faster than when the target was randomly assigned. The reactions of long-variant volunteers barely changed (Biological Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.biopscych.2011.07.004).
"The short version is not just a vulnerability variant," says Fox. It could also be an "opportunity" gene, she says, suggesting that these people are more responsive to emotion, both positive and negative.
(Image: Jon Fisher/Workbook Stock/Getty)