Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Commitment for Sale

Oh my goodness.

Olivia Judson, in this piece on the NYTimes' "The Wild Side" blog, discusses the discovery of the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a gene, which has recently been found to support and encourage the maintenance of committed relationships in humans and other mammals. While the gene is present in both sexes, it's more important to males, as it corresponds to other behaviors such as "aggressive posturing, scent marking of territories, courtship and sex."

Too much of the gene, however, can be a bad thing. In a recent Swedish study, men who had two copies of the gene, a variant known as RS3 334 "were less likely to be married, and more likely to report difficulties in their relationships, than other men. Their partners were also more likely to report relationship difficulties."

When introduced into lab rats (a species that Judson notes is NOT, by any means, a monogamous species), the male rat became interested in cuddling with a partner, and when a new female was introduced into his environment, he "prefer[ed] to consort with the old partner." The question here is: if we were to insert this gene into human males who have a proven aversion to commitment, would we achieve the same result?

Of course, as Judson mentions, this isn't exactly an ethical move. And I, for one, am not a huge fan of altering human behavior through gene therapy.

So, ladies: seeing a guy that won't commit? Time to throw in the towel.

Shit is biological.


Mary-Laure said...

Yep, read about this.

BTW, in The New Yorker's briefly noted section a couple of weeks ago (?) I read about a new book about Virginia Woolf and her relationships with her servants. If you haven't heard, I thought you might be interested.

Anonymous said...

SJP is U G L Y and as for the rest .. who knew? it is all in the genes... explains why some relationships are doomed ... guess I will go follow the stock market to cheer up

Paul Pincus said...

i suspect this is true. observing close friends. myself. but i think this find is kinda liberating in the way truth can be liberating?!

re: anonymous @ 4:48 PM
SJP is a beauty.

Snobber said...

ML: actually, yes! and i read it, too, when it was on submission here. very, very academic, but good!

anon: hey now, SJP is lovely.

PP: it is sort of liberating to think that one's neuroses (oh, he doesn't care about me, etc) might actually be justified. i mean, it's depressing . . . in a liberating way!

yeah, we got SJ's back.

Emily said...

wowza, no wonder mr. big had so many issues.

Crave said...

That is a somewhat concerning discovery....

Cool blog by the way...

Snobber said...

e: srsly!

crave: thanks for stopping by!

Verna said...

Good words.