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Personality and DNA Testing


It’s common knowledge that our eye and hair colour or even diseases can be passed on through our genes, but can DNA testing also shed some light on our personalities?

Identity and DNA Testing

DNA testing is used to confirm our identity – our unique genetic fingerprint. It can be used to establish who we are related to and where we come from. DNA testing can illuminate our genetic ancestry and answer doubts over paternity. It can even reveal if we are susceptible to certain diseases, but can DNA testing tell us if we will turn out to be violent or intelligent, or gay?

DNA Testing Raises Ethical Questions

To some it is our environment that makes us who we are; others believe that we are born a certain way. Each argument has political and sociological consequences, which is why the future of DNA testing is so crucial to society.

Behaviour and Personality

Traditionally, scientists and psychologists have studied identical twins who share the same genes to find out if differences in personality and behaviour can be a result of the child's environment. Scientists have discovered through DNA testing that around half of our personality traits are hard-wired into our genes, though some behavioural characteristics are more elusive – perhaps because scientists first have to work out what these genes are through DNA testing and then establish how they interact.

DNA Testing and Genetics

Some sociologists fear that genetic profiling could incite intolerance or discrimination, but it is worth remembering that environments are as much a driving force in determining who we are as our genes.

DNA Testing – Cracking the DNA Code

Dr Francis Collins, the leading scientist in the Human Genome Project believes DNA testing has come on leaps and bounds. He told the BBC World Service that we should expect "avalanche” of information over the next few years as scientists crack more DNA code and do more DNA testing.

Faulty Genes and Disease

The Human Genome Project’s main aim, however, is not the use of DNA testing to work out the genes governing behaviour but to focus on the faulty genes responsible for disease. DNA testing reveals there are roughly 25,000 genes which human cells use as templates for the manufacture of proteins, which are in turn used to build and maintain our bodies. Dr Collins stressed to the BBC that no matter what DNA testing reveals about genetic make-up and behaviour, it would be a mistake to forget the role that nurture and the environment play in human personality and behaviour.

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