(SAN DIEGO) -- You’ve heard the phrase, “You can choose your friends, but you’re stuck with your family,” but a new study suggests that who you choose as friends may not be as free a choice as we would like to believe.
Researchers mapped out the friendship networks of more than 9,000 people and assessed the genetic signatures of six genes known to have significant effects on human behavior.
The study’s authors believed there was an extremely small chance that any of the genes would associate with friendship networks, but two of the six genes did -- the gene associated with alcoholism and one associated with the personality trait of openness. People with the alcoholism-associated gene tended to cluster together within the friendship network, while those with markers for the latter tended to avoid each other.
This pattern of clustering was not dependent on the geographic proximity of friends, which could influence how people form friendships. The data suggests that to a certain degree, our “choosing” of friends is a process influenced by our genetic makeup.
The findings, from the University of California at San Diego, were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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