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.