As human beings, we all have our own unique mannerisms and behaviors that tend to define us on an individual level. Whether we roll out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first thing in the morning, or we need a second (or third!) cup of coffee just to get us going, these quirks are just as unchangeable as our own fingerprints.
However, have you ever stopped to consider that there might be something more at play here than just sheer force of habit? The fact is, a lot of these antics can actually be traced back to our DNA and where exactly our ancestors came from. Even if they may seem like nothing more than mere actions we perform on a daily basis, there’s actually so much more to them than that.
Just like your eye color or height is written into your genetic code, so are many of your behaviors. So if you’ve been wondering why you’re a certain way or why you have certain traits, you might be pleasantly surprised – and even possibly relieved – to know that you’re not entirely to blame for your curious personality quirks after all!
That Epic Sweet Tooth
For some of us, we need a little something sweet to round out a meal or to savor at the end of a long day. From a square of dark chocolate to nibble on to a slab of carrot cake to share with your partner, it can be unthinkable to even consider depriving yourself of a delicious treat. Others, though, are take it or leave it and can easily go without. But why are some of us like that?
If you tend to reach for sugary foods more often than not, your parents (and their parents!) might be to blame for it. Research has shown that people who have a sweet tooth tend to hail from Denmark and other parts of Europe. Of course, enjoying a little bit of candy here or there isn’t going to be the end of the world or ruin your health. Just be sure to share it with your fellow sweets-loving friends, though!
Your Pain Tolerance
When it comes to bumps and bruises, do you tend to grin and bear it, or does seemingly-mild pain cause you to hiss from between your teeth and wince? If you’re more of the former instead of the latter, then you might want to take a closer look at your genetics. Or to be more precise, you’ll want to take a peek in the mirror and take a hard look at your hair color.
Studies have shown that people with red hair tend to have a higher pain tolerance when compared to the general population. The MC1R genetic variant gets credit for this superhuman power found in gingers. That said, contrary to popular belief, red hair doesn’t hail from Ireland or Scotland. Rather, it comes from parts of Asia and can be traced back over 10,000 years!
The Love of Coffee
For some of us, one cup of coffee in the morning is all it takes to rev us up and help us tackle the day ahead of us. For others, though, it doesn’t stop at just one mug – and it’s not unheard of to chug several cups throughout the day. If you prefer a cup o’ joe instead of water with your meals, it may be more than just a simple affinity for this brewed bean beverage.
Scientists have found that people who have less expression of the PDSS2 gene are more likely to reach for coffee than their abstaining counterparts. If this sounds like you, then your family just might hail from the Netherlands, where the average java consumption is almost twice as much as other populations. Now, would you like cream and sugar, or do you prefer it black?
The Mysteries of Genetics
In many ways, it can be both refreshing and liberating to know that your dietary preferences aren’t due to poor lifestyle choices or bad decision-making. After all, if your propensity to reach for a pastry in the afternoon (and wash it down with a strong cup of coffee, of course!) is in your DNA, then it can all but absolve you from responsibility when you engage in them, right?
And of course, that incredible pain tolerance all but makes you next in line to succeed Clark Kent as Superman. Yet the question remains: why exactly are we like this, and what was the biological necessity for these specific genes to emerge? No doubt, it’s been quite a process in learning why we are the way we are and what genetic factors tend to drive our actions.
Just a few short years ago, we were all but oblivious as to the extent of DNA’s role in our personalities. Thanks to our scientific community tirelessly employing single cell sorting to break down our genetic code to determine how it expresses itself on an individual level, though, we’re finally on our way to truly understanding what makes us human beings – funny quirks and all!