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More on Infidelity and How It Happens: The influence of genetics

A study in 2010 by Justin Garcia, who was at Binghamton University/State University of New York, at the time, and is now at the Kinsey Institute, published a study stating that the motivation for uncommitted sex is genetically-based. However, Garcia says in an interview, “What we found was that individuals with a certain variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to have a history of uncommitted sex, including one-night stands and acts of infidelity,”. A HISTORY of uncommitted sex, said Garcia. He then proceeded to jump to conclusions based on HISTORY to “The motivation seems to stem from a system of pleasure and reward”. Okay, here he is talking about MOTIVATION, not history. Did he actually study what motivated his subjects? No. He studied history of the sexual behavior and intimate relationships of 181 young adults along with samples of their DNA. What does this have to do with motivation? Yes, the gene codes for a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Yes, dopamine responds to high reward, high risk, and high motivation. In cases of uncommitted sex, all these factors might be present, but what if the uncommitted sex turns out not to be that great. Even Garcia admits that people without this genetic variant sometimes have uncommitted sex. He says: “The study doesn’t let transgressors off the hook,” The study didn’t show that everyone with this genotype will have one-night stands or commit infidelity. The study merely suggests that of those with this genetic type WERE more likely to engage in one-night stands and acts of infidelity. Another limitation of the study is that neither the prediction of future sexual behaviour nor the upbringing of the subjects were considered. In any case, the authors reasonably concluded: “Individual differences in sexual behavior are likely partially mediated by individual genetic variation.” Well, what isn’t? What part of this conclusion is a surprise?

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