Sunday, April 15, 2012

Why Aren't Some People Nice?

You have to admit that some people are nicer than others. I attributed being nice to different factors, in my mind, having to do with the old “nature (inherited) vs. nurture (environmental/learned)” theories. Maybe a big part of our own behavior is based on what we learn?  Some of us are taught manners, are more socially conscious, or don’t want to be judged for acting rudely etc.  There are some people who live relatively stress free lives, surely they can afford to be nice, but they aren’t always. There are other people I know, whose lives are so stressful, that they should be biting people’s heads off for asking a simple question, but they don’t. Why can’t we all just be nice?

Maybe it’s because we inherit genes that control our behavior? A friend of mine forwarded me an article about a study done in the University of Buffalo. It seems that a big part of being nice has to do with our DNA and is hereditary. They claim that people who feel threatened tend not to be nice. I can agree with that! However, people who had a mutated or different version of two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, were able to overcome the feeling of being threatened, were nicer and more willing to help others despite their fears. 

This leads me to wonder if I have the mutated hormonal genes for niceness or the regular grumpy hormonal genes.  Maybe I’ll go out on a limb and say I probably have the regular ones or, if anything, a more grumpier version. I wonder if they can start to bottle those nice hormones right away because I know a couple of people (actually a lot of people) who should be taking them every day! I’d even pop a couple of these pills myself. 

It seems that soon they will trace everything back to our DNA. We will have an excuse for everything we do. It will be like a free pass. “I can’t help it if I inherited some bad genes!” Will we become the victims of our ancestors? Just like our physical characteristics are inherited, why not our personality traits? I don’t need proof of this. My personality is very much like my mother’s, so is my older daughter’s. My younger daughter’s temperament is very much like her father’s and her paternal grandmother. In our family, we have been blaming our genes for our behavior for years. Maybe we couldn’t pinpoint the exact genes, but we knew it was in the DNA. 

Science is finally catching up with my theories and proving me right. The next step will be to determine which genes control which aspects of our behavior and, if we are doomed to inherit some bad traits, maybe we can use behavior therapy to fix the problem before the genes take hold of us? Who knows what they are going to do with this information, now that they have it. But, if you see some snarky facebook status’ of mine or my blogs aren’t quite as polite as they should be, chances are I got stuck with some “dud” genes and it really is my mother’s fault!

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