Nature or Nurture

The age-old question…  Are we what we are because of the way we were raised, or because of our genetic make-up.  If it was all nurture then why would two siblings have totally different personalities?  Have  you ever contacted family members to get information and come up with two totally different perceptions of the same event?  Why does one person see the cup as half full and the other see it as half empty?  Well, guess what?  It is in the genes, at least a good portion of it.  My sister and I had two totally different perception of our childhood.  Granted, your placement in the family has a lot to do with it, but I don’t believe you can fight the genetic profile.  My family was relatively poor growing up. I was the youngest in a family of three children.  Yes, there were times when I felt picked on because I was the youngest, but generally speaking,  I have always seen this as part of what made me what I am, that it helped to build my character.  My sister, the middle child, on the other hand had a hard time seeing the good times, and seemed to dwell more on the negatives of growing up with little.  Recently I spoke to a family member, the youngest in her family.  There were three children in her family also, she was the youngest.  If it were family placement you would think that she would have a similar life philosophy as myself.  But the exact opposite was true.  The oldest child was full of optimism, seeing their childhood as full of adventure and love. I have questioned both about family members and would get two totally different perceptions of the same event.  It wasn’t that one was lying and the other telling the truth, it was the perception of the event that made the difference.

While the three major testing companies do not give medical data now, due to current FDA restrictions, there are several sites where you can upload your raw data and get your complete medical profile.  The one I chose was Promethease.  For a nominal fee you can download your entire profile.  One of the things that I noticed was in  rs53576(G:G).  This particular allele (genetic variant) is what makes me more optimistic and allows me to see the cup half full instead of half empty.  I also carry the warrior gene, rs4680(G:G).  At first glance I would think that was a bad thing, but it is listed as “good.”  Why would that be?  Am I ready to fight at the drop of a hat?  Well, maybe sometimes :).  But, it says that it makes me better able to adapt under stress. I am sure that there are some negatives to having the warrior genes, but since I am genetically inclined to be optimistic, I won’t go looking for the negatives, haha.  These reports will also show you detailed information on how different drugs react on you, how you handle anger, how quickly you might age, how you metabolize caffeine, your risk of lower HDL and much much more.

The whole study of genetics is very new to me, and there is so much to learn.  Ever since I had my first child I marveled how she would inherit my brown eye color, but the fair haired complexion of her father.  Now with the advent of DNA testing and the internet it is available to study and ponder.

In the FTDNA Learning center there is a wealth of information to help you understand what you are looking at in your DNA.  There is a glossary of terms, which has helped me to understand more of what I am reading, and charts to help “diagnose” a relationship.  Below is just one of the charts available for determining a particular relationship of a match, from the  ebook “I have the results of my genetic testing, now what?” by Blaine T. Bettinger, PHD J.D.  .  Genes are measured by CentiMorgans (cM).  Here you will see  the actual range of the match on a particular gene, what size it is, and the average size of the longest segment.


1C represents 1st cousin, 1C1R represents 1st cousin once removed and so on, including half (step) family members.  On the reports you get from 23andme and FTDNA, and the apps GenomeMate and GedMatch (which I will talk about later) it will give you these figures.  This is a general classification and by no means proof positive of the exact relationship, but in most cases is pretty close.  These two testing companies will give you an estimated relationship, and this is how they figure it out.  GenomeMate and Gedmatch do not give you suggested relationship, but they give you the numbers and you can use this chart to make your best estimate. does not give you a break down of each chromosome, but does use the information and your family tree to compare to your other matches and make a prediction.

It is my intention to talk about GenomeMate on the next blog, so be sure and check back if you would like to know about this great free data base app.