People could be genetically predisposed to social media use

Researcher Chance York, who is presenting his findings at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, California, found that more than one-third of differences between individuals’ online behavior can be attributed to genetics rather than environmental factors such as family circumstances and availability of computers and smartphones.

York and his team used a behavior genetic framework and twin study data from a 2013 survey. They examined how both environmental and genetic factors contribute to social media use by applying an analytical model called Defries-Fulker (DF) Regression. The data analyzed revealed one to two-thirds of variance in social media use is attributable to additive genetic traits; unique and shared environmental factors account for the remainder of variance.

Past research has revealed that genetics can influence the way we communicate with other people, but it’s thought that this is one of the first investigations to show that these traits seemingly affect our online behavior as well.

“This study doesn't suggest that using DF regression with twin survey data, or the behavioral genetics perspective more generally, can directly assess gene-level influence on specific behaviors. There is no 'social media gene,”, said York, "the assumption here is that known genetic variation between fraternal and identical twins can be leveraged to study how genetic variation influences patterns of observable behavior”.

Although these researchers are still working in a 'black box' in which they can´t directly observe how genes impact our neuroanatomy, which in turn impacts cognitive processing, personality, and subsequent media selection and effects, this study is a starting point for studying genetic influence on communication.

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

Prepared by

LatinAmerican Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez

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