HEALTHY LIVING
10/11/2013 10:11 am ET

Genes Linked With Predisposition To Focus On The Negative: Study

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Everyone has that friend. You know, the one who manages to see the negative in any situation, whether it be slippery rocks at a beautiful canyon, or the one angry person in a crowd. Well, according to new research, he (or she) might have been born that way.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia have identified a genetic variation, called the ADRA2b-deletion variant, that seems to be linked with focusing on the negative.

"This is the first study to find that this genetic variation can significantly affect how people see and experience the world," study researcher Rebecca Todd, a psychological scientist at the university, said in a statement. "The findings suggest people experience emotional aspects of the world partly through gene-colored glasses -- and that biological variations at the genetic level can play a significant role in individual differences in perception."

For the study, which is published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers had 207 participants look at positive, neutral and negative words as they were rapidly presented. People who carried the ADRA2B-deletion were more likely to notice the negative words. However, both people with and without the genetic variation were able to pick out the positive words better than they were able to pick out the neutral words.

Of course, it's not just genes that will make someone focus on the negative -- environmental factors also play a part. But the link between genes and outlook suggest having this genetic variant could play some role in predisposing people to view life in this way.

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