We examined an understudied but potentially important source of romantic attraction—genetics—using a speed-dating paradigm. The mu opioid receptor (OPRM1) polymorphism A118G (rs1799971) and the serotonin receptor (HTR2A) polymorphism −1438 A/G (rs6311) were studied because they have been implicated in social affiliation. Guided by the social role theory of mate selection and prior genetic evidence, we examined these polymorphisms’ gender-specific associations with speed-dating success (i.e., date offers, mate desirability). A total of 262 single Asian Americans went on speed-dates with members of the opposite gender and completed interaction questionnaires about their partners. Consistent with our prediction, significant gender-by-genotype interactions were found for speed-dating success. Specifically, the minor variant of A118G (G-allele), which has been linked to submissiveness/social sensitivity, predicted greater speed-dating success for women, whereas the minor variant of −1438 A/G (G-allele), which has been linked to leadership/social dominance, predicted greater speed-dating success for men. For both polymorphisms, reverse “dampening” effects of minor variants were found for opposite-gender counterparts. These results support previous research on the importance of the opioid and serotonergic systems in social affiliation, indicating that their influence extends to dating success, with opposite, yet gender-norm consistent, effects for men and women.
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We thank Society of Research on Adolescence and Psi Chi National Honor Society for funding this research and our research assistants for their hard work on this project: Jonathan B. Lim, Stephanie Nguyen, Blaise Lallathin, Paul Phandl, Melody Lim, Ronica Senores, Justin Huft, Gabriel Corpus, Jennifer Lai, and Marissa Tom.
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Wu, K., Chen, C., Moyzis, R.K. et al. Gender Interacts with Opioid Receptor Polymorphism A118G and Serotonin Receptor Polymorphism −1438 A/G on Speed-Dating Success. Hum Nat 27, 244–260 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-016-9257-8
- Human mate selection
- Behavioral genetics