60-Second Mind

Is Fidelity in our Genes?

A gene that promotes monogamy in rodents may do the same in humans. Researchers think variation in this gene may help predict your man's ability to commit

[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]

Did you ever wonder why some guys are less cut out for commitment, while others stick around?

Well, in a type of rodent called a vole, one thing that controls mate bonding is a brain chemical called vasopressin. A gene that influences vasopressin determines how doggedly males will latch on to a lucky female. Scientists can even make promiscuous voles turn monogamous—just by manipulating the gene. 

This week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  researchers report a link between variation in the human gene and male fidelity.

Nearly two thousand Swedes filled out a standardized test measuring the strength of their romantic partnership.

Men with a particular variant of the gene scored lower than others on the bonding scale, and fewer of them were married. What's more, if a guy had two copies of that variant he was twice as likely to report marital problems.

Ladies, don't fret just yet. It’s just a correlation that they’ve found. Stronger evidence of a causal relationship between DNA and vasopressin in humans is needed.

But in the meantime, hopeful single guys out there may want to hold off on posting their genetic code on Facebook.

- Rachel Dvoskin


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