What first attracted you to your mate? Was it his or her smile or personality? Perhaps the one you love has the same views, goals and values as you do and that was the clincher. No matter what the reasons are for you choosing your partner, you may be surprised to know there is way more to it than outward similarities. When we pick a mate, scientists have now discovered it has much more to do with than just the “laws of attraction” coming into play.
New Research Study Regarding DNA & Selecting a Partner
According to a newly released study done by the University of Colorado Boulder, people are more genetically similar to their spouses than they are to randomly picked individuals from within the same population. Medical researchers and scientists already know people tend to marry those who share similar characteristics, including religion, race, income, education and body type.
However, the results of the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists have proven people are also likely to choose a partner who has similar DNA. While things such as race, body type and education all have certain genetic components, this study was the first one which actually looked at similarities across the entire genome itself.
The Science of Falling in Love
When two people fall in love, something mystical and complex happens that goes way beyond the physical aspects of attraction. Attraction happens on an unconscious level and some of these reasons can be deeply rooted into unmet childhood needs.
It is an old saying that “like attracts like,” and many people choose to marry others who are like them. However, there is a question about whether or not we mate randomly with respect to genetics. During the study, Dr. Benjamin Domingue and his colleagues studied genomic data which was collected by the Health and Retirement Study, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.
I like your genes!
Researchers examined the genomes of 825, non-Hispanic, Caucasian American couples, and paid specific attention to the single-nucleotide polymorphisms. These single-nucleotide polymorphisms are places in DNA which are known to be different in each human being. By comparing, researchers found there are fewer differences between the DNA of married people than those of two randomly picked individuals.
In total, researchers were able to determine an estimated genetic similarity between people using 1.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms in each person’s genome. Through the research study, scientists found people prefer mates who have a similar DNA profile. The findings of this study could have serious implications for the statistical models researchers and scientists now use to understand the genetic differences between human populations.
The study mirrored a follow-up study with data provided by the long-running Framingham Heart Study, which also revealed married couples have more genetic similarities than random pairs of people.
DNA And Dating Websites
An interesting spin on typical online dating websites has recently come about. The website SingldOut requires members to submit a DNA swab for testing. The samples are forwarded to a laboratory and are tested for two genetic markers. These genetic markers are then posted to the members profile and compared to other users.
One of genetic markers tested is the serotonin reuptake controller, which is responsible for how people handle negative and positive emotions. The other genetic marker relates to the genes influencing a person’s immune system.
However, through the use of DNA test kits, there is another layer added and better matches may be the result.
Genetics and Attractiveness
Other research studies have explored the genetic mystery behind facial symmetry and body scent and how they relate to attraction between women and men. Researchers found women were more attracted to the body scent of males who had a different type of gene section within the DNA called Major histocompatibility complex or MHC. MHC encodes the proteins dealing with individual body odor and deals with the immune system. It is thought human beings are attracted to others who have a dissimilar MHC section than they do, in order to avoid inbreeding.
What are the social effects of these studies?
What people perceive as attractive will vary. When someone is perceived as “beautiful,” then it is believed they have many other positive attributes which will make them even more desirable.
However, in the quest for beauty many women and men have resulted to cosmetic surgery to make themselves more appealing.
To be perceived as attractive is one thing, but to have attraction for someone else influenced by DNA is an entirely new concept. Beauty is only skin deep and apparently genetics and DNA play a more important role than anyone ever realized. It will be interesting to ponder everything we already know about attraction and how the traditional model of what it is based upon may now change due to all the ongoing studies focusing on DNA.
DNA and Attraction: The Future
It is very important for medical researchers to understand how DNA similarities can influence mating, because scientists studying genetics and evolution cannot assume that genes randomly mix. More studies are needed to uncover the complexities of DNA and how it influences our choice of spouse, but one thing is for certain the results of this study are only the first step in uncovering more interesting and eye-opening information.