Nature versus Nurture? You may be asking the wrong question. In their recent article in Clinical Psychological Science, Slavich and Cole review the emerging science of Human Social Genomics (HSG). This research suggests that human genetic expression may not be as fixed as previously thought, and that our genetic expression depends on the ever changing social and environmental factors that occur throughout an individual’s life. Furthermore, research indicates that genetic expression is not necessarily tied to objective factors in a person’s environment, but rather their subjective experience of the environment. Slavich and Cole also discuss the existence of a human metagenome; the idea that an individual’s genetic expression continuously influences and is influenced by the genetic expression of other individuals. HSG research represents a paradigm shift in how we understand gene-environment interactions. The implications are far reaching, especially for Clinical and Positive Psychology, where a better understanding of the dynamic gene-environment interaction may lead to an increased ability to prevent disease and create environments that promote well-being.
- Slavich, G. M., & Cole, S. W. (2013). The Emerging Field of Human Social Genomics. Clinical Psychological Science, 1(3), 331-348.