Are Habits Genetic? Science Has The Answer


We all know that genes dictate your health, nutrition, and fitness. But did you know that your habits can also be influenced by your genetics?

Habits are genetic. At the time of your conception, your genetic build-up is determined and that forms the basis of all your habits, traits, and health conditions. With time, your genes and your lifestyle interact to form your current habits and health state.

Ever thought about why some people become addicted to certain habits while others don’t? Let’s explore the answer to this question.

What are habits

Habits are the actions you perform, and the choices you make every day and most of the time it becomes the part and parcel of your life. Your life today is the sum of all your habits.

What are genetics

Genetics is the study of hereditary. It studies your genes. All your information is stored in your genes and knowing them can help you improve your life. The genes contain instructions that can make you susceptible to developing certain medical conditions. The expressions of your genes change over time with the lifestyle you lead.

Role of genetics in addiction

Addiction is strongly influenced by environmental factors. However, there is a shred of strong scientific evidence that supports that genes play an important role in addiction.

Addiction is 50 percent due to genetic predisposition.

The genetic variants influencing the tendency for variant habits are generally present in the genes that are part of the brain’s pleasure and reward processing system.

These genetic variants can either lead to overproduction of the pleasure signals after taking the addictive substances, which makes you want it more, or it reduces the displeasure signals so that you can keep taking them without feeling the adverse effect.

Role of genetics in finances

A study of twins found that genetics are responsible for 33 percent of the variation in savings rates. Eben twins who grew up separately showed identical patterns of spending and saving. While social and environmental factors influence how you treat money, the influence of these factors declines over time, and by age 40, it’s all down to genetics. {source: Kadlec}

In another study, researchers found that your investment habits also come from your parents. Just like spending and saving, one-third of the variation in investment strategy is determined by genetics. Twins who grew up separately showed similar patterns of risk preference and asset allocation in the stock market.

I think now you are worried that your children will pick up all your bad habits. The good news is your good habits also have a genetic component. Researchers discovered that people who volunteer regularly are 125 percent more likely to have parents who actually volunteered themselves than people who don’t volunteer regularly. {source Grey Matter Research}

Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself stuck in the same rut as your parents habits-wise, while genetics explains some of the variation in habits like drug addiction and spending, it’s not the only determining factor. With enough commitment, you may be able to overcome the influence of genetics and form better habits for yourself and future generations.

We don’t inherit behavior!

Dr. Brenda Shook, a psychology professor said that we don’t inherit behavior or personality, but rather we inherit genes. And these genes contain information that produces proteins, which can form in many combinations, all affecting our behavior and personality. Even with this DNA, Shook says of the outcome, “… and it still could depend on the environment: what will turn on and off a gene?”

Shook said there is a growing interest in how, when, and why some genes activate, and some don’t. She refers to this area of research as epigenetics.

What is Epigenetics?

The American Psychological Association defines epigenetics as the study of how variation in inherited traits can originate through means other than variations in DNA. Psychology Today contributor Darcia F. Narvaez puts it into simpler terms: “In other words, the lived experience of an individual can influence their gene behavior.”

Shook says epigenetics is probably the most suitable place to which we can look for answers to questions like: “Is human behavior genetic or learned?.

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