The Effects of Sociability Genetics on Nations


I recently read an article linked on slashdot.org about a sociability gene discovered in fireants–the first such gene to be found.  I’ve long suspected that such genes exist (or more precisely, huge bundles of related genes, as the article states), and seeing the inklings of my suspicions confirmed with modern science has given me cause to voice some of the things I’ve been considering relative to why various nations and peoples behave as they do–and why other nations and peoples have difficulty understanding why.  These, below, are my thoughts.  Please read the linked article for a better understanding of how I use the term, “sociability.”

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/01/first-known-social-chromosome-fo.html?ref=hp

If, indeed, other creatures than fireants–such as humans–inherit personality traits (such as sociability or the lack thereof) genetically–in addition to learning skills in these matters (through experience and “nurture”)–then this leads to a potentially very fairly impactful syllogism:

1. The sociability (or lack thereof) of a human being is largely determined by genetics.
2. The social structure of a society is largely determined by the values and traits of its comprising members.
3. Those who are highly-sociable tend to thrive in societies where social interaction is closely related to power structure.
4. Highly-sociable individuals who live in societies where the power structure is traditionally more monolithic (such a theocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, fanatical regime, harsh regime, etc.) tend to become marginalized because they’re seen as a potential threat to the traditional power structure (by way of gathering followers, potentially questioning authority, etc.).  This occurs both on the governmental level and in business, etc.
5. Sexual selection (that is, natural selection by way of how mates are chosen) is highly sensitive to how a society sees a given individual’s value and long-term viability (that is, perceived “potential” and “success”).
6. Sexual selection leads to genetic traits being favored or not favored, such that desirable ones (including those chosen by societal “momentum,” as above) are emphasized, and undesirable ones are made less common.
7. Because of #6, the genes for high sociability will be largely “bred out” of societies wherein such a trait is not valued.
8. Populations tend to reject and marginalize those who are of a minority genetic makeup (i.e. foreigners, “ethnics,” etc.)

Conclusion: Sexual selection among humans–largely driven by societal determinations–will cause, and has caused certain parts of the world to become genetically predisposed AGAINST all societal structures and customs that require a high degree of sociability and a distributed power structure in order to function properly. This included democratic government (in its various forms), free religion (i.e. not strictly governed by monolithic or oligarchic authority), freedom to demonstrate, freedom of speech, and so forth. This hereby calls into question whether it’s valid to impress or force such structures and customs upon a given population unless/until these populations see themselves as being ready for, and desirous of these things.

Notably, what a society desires changes dramatically over time. “Public consciousness” shifts, and thereby changes what is seen as “desirable” in mates (as well as what is a survivable/unsurvivable genetic trait). Therefore, it’s not only possible but likely that societies which are not ready for such social structures/customs now will be ready in the future–and likewise, that those which were unready for them only a few years ago are ready for them now. I believe we’re seeing this in what has been dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Likewise, much of the world seems to be “awakening” from the state of accepting monolithic authority/power structures, and bucking long-standing traditions which prevent individuals from flourishing independent of such structures. Could it be that for the last generation or two (or several), those who were more willing to freely join with one another, and to question authority and customs became more desirable as mates than they were previously? The “hippy”/”baby boomer” generation of the United States certainly seems to support this theory. (Sadly, our cultural apathy is yet extremely powerful.)  Perhaps in yet another generation–if things continue to go this way–the world will be largely or wholly unrecognizable–on a social, economic, and political level–from the one that those born around the 1920s knew.  I, for one, greatly look forward to this change, and have high hopes for the generation born just a couple of decades after me!  (I was born in 1982.)

I don’t know if my theories are correct, but I think the syllogism is good (in the logical sense). If my conclusion truly follows from the premises, perhaps it’s worth asking whether those premises are, indeed, as correct as I suspect they are.  If so, then does the world gasp in anticipation for the great change that’s, perhaps, shortly to come?

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2 thoughts on “The Effects of Sociability Genetics on Nations

  1. It could be nature (genetic), but I’m more inclined to think its nurture. Francis Fukuyama wrote a good book entitled “Trust” about 10 years back. His analysis of high trust and low trust societies (and their related economic systems) is a cultural analysis similar to your genetic analysis.

    • I agree that nurture plays a major role–probably even a bigger one than genetics–but I also think that this is a false dichotomy. Is there a reason it can’t be, or probably isn’t both? I’ve never seen the validity of arguing “nature vs. nurture.” Perhaps I’m missing something…but I wonder if the dichotomy would simply evaporate if the discussion moved from a debate to a dialectic.

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