A genetic predisposition is a genetic characteristic which influences the possible phenotypic development of an individual organism within a species or population under the influence of environmental conditions. In medicine, genetic susceptibility to a disease refers to a genetic predisposition to a health problem, which may eventually be triggered by particular environmental or lifestyle factors, such as tobacco smoking or diet. Genetic testing is able to identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain diseases.
Predisposition is the capacity we are born with to learn things such as language and concept of self. Negative environmental influences may block the predisposition (ability) we have to do some things. Behaviors displayed by animals can be influenced by genetic predispositions. Genetic predisposition towards certain human behaviors is scientifically investigated by attempts to identify patterns of human behavior that seem to be invariant over long periods of time and in very different cultures.
For example, philosopher Daniel Dennett has proposed that humans are genetically predisposed to have a theory of mind because there has been evolutionary selection for the human ability to adopt the intentional stance. The intentional stance is a useful behavioral strategy by which humans assume that others have minds like their own. This assumption allows you to predict the behavior of others based on personal knowledge of what you would do.
In 1951, Hans Eysenck and Donald Prell published an experiment in which identical (monozygotic) and fraternal (dizygotic) twins, ages 11 and 12, were tested for neuroticism. It is described in detail in an article published in the Journal of Mental Science. in which Eysenck and Prell concluded that, "The factor of neuroticism is not a statistical artifact, but constitutes a biological unit which is inherited as a whole....neurotic Genetic predisposition is to a large extent hereditarily determined."
The field of evolutionary psychology explores the idea that certain behaviors have been selected for during the course of evolution.
Genetic discrimination in health insurance
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which was signed into law by President Bush on May 21, 2008, prohibits discrimination in employment and health insurance based on genetic information.
- What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease?, US Department of Health
- The Journal of Mental Health, July 1951, Vol. XCVII, "The Inheritance of Neuroticism: An Experimental Study", H. J. Eysenck and D. B. Prell, p. 402.
- ^ The results of this survey are discussed here (January 20, 1998).
- ^ A summary of U.S.A. executive orders and proposed legislation is compiled by the National Center for Genome Resources.
- ^ The Intentional Stance (MIT Press; Reprint edition 1989) (ISBN 0-262-54053-3)