Uncommon Knowledge

Do Your Genes Make You Wander?

December 7, 2015

Cork Globe | UncommonGoodsWe all have those friends who update their social media from a different country every month; who come home for the holidays with stories of faraway lands, intoxicating food, and future adventures. So what makes some chase waterfalls while others are more than happy to stick the rivers and the lakes that they’re used to?

Turns out, your genetics can determine whether you’re a nester or a wanderluster. In 1999, a group of four scientists at UC Irvine set out to explore the migration patterns and gene pool distribution of prehistoric human beings. Originally intending to find a link between the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) and Attention Deficit Disorder, they discovered another correlation: people with DRD4 genes tend to be thrill-seeking and migratory.

Almost all of the study participants with this gene had a long history of traveling—and this phenomenon can be traced back to where we came from and whether our ancestors were migratory. Only a small portion of the genetic pool contains this trait. Most of the population prefers to “develop intensive methods for using limited amounts of land.” Possessors of the DRD4 gene, however, are intent on seeking out uninhabited (or in modern times, unfamiliar) lands to find fresh resources. Happy travels!

Cork Globe | $129.00


  • Reply Rosemary December 7, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I wonder if Peace Corps should test all of us volunteers for DRD4? It may help in selecting candidates who will thrive through a long rainy season or a 12 hour bus ride to site. Hola desde Guatemala

  • Reply Vicki December 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I had this same conversation with a friend from Sweden recently. We decided, all people of immigrant heritage had to have a touch of DRD4 in their genes. Imagine how brave they were to set out from their small villages and towns, cross an Ocean and cross the wilderness to build a new life.

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