Sociologists looking at risky behavior plunge into the gene pool

A new study of youths reveals that social scientists’ opinions still vary on the potential of studying how genes interact with social contexts

12:37pm, August 15, 2010

ATLANTA — Early in the morning on August 14, sociologists crammed into a meeting room here to debate the merits of their unlikely new collaboration with geneticists trying to unravel the roots of behavior.

Attendees at this session of the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association seemed certain of one thing: There’s a long way to go, but it’s a trip worth taking.

Reports that certain gene variants interact with stress or other social forces to promote or protect against depression and other outcomes remain hard to interpret and usually stymie replication attempts. But that has led a growing band of sociologists to redouble efforts to entwine a strand of social nuance around the double helix.

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