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Medicine Science

Scientists Discover Gene For Ruthlessness 300

Pioneer Woman writes "Researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem have found a link between a gene called AVPR1a and ruthless behavior. These findings come from an economic exercise called the 'Dictator Game' that allows players to behave selflessly, or like national dictators and 'little Hitlers' found in workplaces the world over. The team decided to look at AVPR1a because it is known to produce receptors in the brain that detect vasopressin, a hormone involved in 'prosocial' behavior. Researchers tested DNA samples from more than 200 student volunteers, before asking the students to play the game that measured their altruism. There was no connection between the participants' gender and their behavior but there was a link to the length of the AVPR1a gene."
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Scientists Discover Gene For Ruthlessness

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  • Repeat after me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:44PM (#22984256)

    Correlation is not causation. Among other things, the hormone they're claiming is involved is also linked to about a dozen other things- the wikipedia article linked to is a veritable laundry list of basic body functions.

    Side memo to the press: Stop. Dumbing. Down. Science.

  • by Icarus1919 ( 802533 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:46PM (#22984276)
    Games don't equal real life, but the way you play does say something about you at a fundamental level. The type of people who enjoy fragging in CS and the type of people who play Hello Kitty Island Adventure are not one and the same (for the most part).
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:51PM (#22984310) Homepage
    From my under standing the way children play will reflect in the kind of adults they become. Good sportsmanship ahead of winning, I know it's so terribly old fashioned in mass media and modern marketing, but it is true they way people play reflect the kind of people they are.

    Certainly a high risk of harm to others gene really does put an odd slant on genetic testing. Think of all those sociopath corporate types who want genetic testing to exclude people from health insurance or employment, now they might have pause to rethink that whole idea when it would be aimed at them.

    Really interesting though, a political gene, short and limp, your a republican and long and firm your a social democrat. Now that certainly does explain a few things.

  • by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @09:56PM (#22984336)
    I am a gamer and I'll agree that games are not real life. But I must say, I wouldn't kill people in real life because there are repercussions. I can kill all the bad guys (or good guys if I feel like it) in a game and there are no REAL consequences. In real life, that's not killing = bad.

    But if I were a dictator and had total control of my country, the repercussions for cracking down and killing thousands of people may not be so bad. First order of business: institute mandatory DNA registrations, checking every person for AVPR1a and killing all the other ruthless people.
  • by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#22984384)
    What ever happened to personal responsibility? just about every vice in our society now is handled by psychologists instead of jail guards.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @10:07PM (#22984432)
    I call bullshit that there is something fundamental in behavior.

    People modify their behavior, compassion, etc depending on context.

    I'll help little old grannies across the road without mugging them, but when I play chess I'm ruthless. I will handle a fish that I've caught (catch and release) with great tenderness, but will wring a rabbit's neck or shoot a person if the situation demands.

    One special forces person I knew a while ago shot up some real people, laid some landmines then later that day rolled his car swerving to miss a small animal on the road.

  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @10:21PM (#22984554) Homepage
    Most people who kill many characters on FPS are not going to kill real people.

    There, fixed that for you. There have been a few notable exceptions.
  • Re:oh the irony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @11:31PM (#22984992)
    The rub is that people really are genetically different. While understanding differences is important to understanding how and why people respond differently to different medications, etc., it's just a little bitty hop to start deciding one person is "better" than another based on genetics.

    Genetics is truly a double-edged sword. Just deciding that some gene needs to be "fixed" brings a value judgement with it. And that same little hop to deciding one person is better than another.

    Hopefully it only gets as extreme as wanting to help fix other people's genes instead of exterminate them.
  • by SUB7IME ( 604466 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @11:38PM (#22985054)
    Vasopressin is also known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH). ADH increases arterial blood pressure.

    If the findings of this study are true, they may help explain the stereotype of the aggressive, ruthless management-type-figure with bulging neck veins suffering from a heart attack.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2008 @12:18AM (#22985330)
    I mean since the other name is Anti-Diuretic Hormone, IE it controls peeing.
  • Re:oh the irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday April 07, 2008 @12:43AM (#22985448) Homepage Journal
    oh the irony of a hebrew research center practicing eugenics.

    How's that ironic? The Ashkenazi have been selecting (the purposefulness is debated) for intelligence for quite a long time, and are now generally more intelligent on average than the average humnan. It's speculated [] that this is tied up with their higher than average proportion of genetic diseases.

    They've been recently using outright eugenics [] to eliminate their genetic diseases. Whether this has a negative pressure on their intelligence curve remains to be seen (by our descendants, not us).

  • Re:hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <> on Monday April 07, 2008 @01:59AM (#22985816) Journal

    Maybe that's why so many cops are short.


    I think the Croatian police has some kind of regulation (I no longer know where I heard that) about uniformed cops saying male cops may not be shorter than 1.70 (5'8").
    I know I do not recall seeing a male cop shorter than me.

    I do know they have no regulations about female cop cup sizes, though. When they pinched my mobile phone some years ago, I went to report the theft... never did I want so much to be arrested, I tell you.

    Ahem. Do carry on.

  • by MikShapi ( 681808 ) on Monday April 07, 2008 @03:01AM (#22986082) Journal
    You're missing the point here.

    As long as it's something you do to yourself, it'd be morally sound. Case in point: Tatts, piercing, sex-change ops, etc.

    When it becomes something you force upon others without their consent, well, that's when morals and ethics fly out the window and Hitler starts being mentioned. It'd be just as bad if some were to PREVENT gene-therapy from others against the other's will as it would to apply it against their will.

    Let's say they do identify the gene for being gay, being black, having a vagina, being bi-symmetrical or that gives you herpes. And let's say that we'll get the genetic toolbox to add and/or eliminate genes from our system.

    What's wrong with people fiddling around with themselves? How is it fundamentally different from what we already have today?

    Who are we to say that the knowledge of what (stemming from research such as this) and how (the genetic toolbox) are immoral for someone to use on themselves?

    Any progress towards either the what or the how is good. The more we know, the sooner we can start changing shit in our bodies we don't like and can't already tackle.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.