The article entitled, “Your Friends May Be In Your Genes,” discusses the study Virginia Commonwealth University researchers led on the influence of genes on the choices that we make when developing social connections.  Researchers claim that as people mature, their genes become progressively more critical in how they choose their friend groups. The discoveries in the study reflect which people are most susceptible for substance use or externalizing behaviors in their lifetime, based on the company they keep.

Comprised of individuals who were part of the Virginia Twin Registry, the study looked into the role of genetic factors in decision making amongst men during their adolescence, using roughly 1,800 male twin pairs ranging from teenage years to early adulthood, and involved interviews used to help explain how social groups can influence deviant behaviors.  Specifically, the study showed that genes can impact how individuals select their peer groups, and that those groups affects one’s tendency to engage in antisocial behaviors. Because peers have a significant effect on promoting and/or discouraging deviant behaviors and also oftentimes provide substances for abuse, an individual’s social environment can play a critical role in his/her life choices.

As mentioned in the article, “Why Twin Studies,” Twin studies have long been used as a means to identify different illnesses and disorders because they allow researchers to determine the the various influences on certain traits.  If a trait is similar between individuals who have the same genes, like identical twins, but not so in fraternal twins, a case can be made for a genetic link.  If a trait is similar between fraternal twins, but not so in identical twins, then a case can be made for environmental impact.

In the article, “Its Nature and Nurture: How Our Genes and Our Friends Shape the Way We Live Our Lives,” further support is given to the link between genes, environment, and risky behaviors when it points out that more educated Americans are less likely to smoke.  Since educated people tend to surround themselves with like minded people who find smoking unacceptable, those who are socially connected in this way are not usually smokers.  This suggests that people who have genes linked to educational success are less likely to have genes linked to smoking and vice versa.

Genes are segments of DNA that contain the instructions for the production of proteins.  Cells contain organelles, called ribosomes that are responsible for producing proteins that control physical traits.  Genes provide the information for which amino acids need to be joined to build each protein.

Personally, I think genes are interesting not only because they control the traits that we posses, but also because they can be linked to who we chose to surround ourselves with. It is our social choices that can then determine behaviors we participate in.