The Secret Ingredient for Social Success of Young Males: A Functional Polymorphism in the 5HT2A Serotonin Receptor Gene

Dijkstra, Jan Kornelis; Lindenberg, Siegwart; Zijlstra, Lieuwe; Bouma, Esther; Veenstra, René
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
In adolescence, being socially successful depends to a large extent on being popular with peers. Even though some youths have what it takes to be popular, they are not, whereas others seem to have a secret ingredient that just makes the difference. In this study the G-allele of a functional polymorphism in the promotor region of the 5HT2A serotonin receptor gene (-G1438A) was identified as a secret ingredient for popularity among peers. These findings build on and extend previous work by Burt (2008, 2009). Tackling limitations from previous research, the role of the 5HT2A serotonin receptor gene was examined in adolescent males (N = 285; average age 13) using a unique sample of the TRAILS study. Carrying the G-allele enhanced the relation between aggression and popularity, particularly for those boys who have many female friends. This seems to be an “enhancer” effect of the G-allele whereby popularity relevant characteristics are made more noticeable. There is no “popularity gene”, as the G-allele by itself had no effect on popularity.


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