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Polyamory Personal Genomics Study

Page history last edited by Administrator 6 years, 5 months ago

DIYgenomics Polyamory Personal Genomics Study

DIYgenomics wiki homepage


NOTE: this study is in planning and may launch in December 2013 / January 2014. Meanwhile you can: 

1) Sign-up on Genomera where we will be running the study, upload your 23andMe data, and see if there are any other studies that would be interesting to you.
Click here to sign up: http://genomera.com/studies/subjective-experience-citizen-qualia-study
2) Review the Polyamory Genomics Study and see if you have any comments: http://genomera.com/studies/polyamory-genomics-study

3) Volunteer: to launch the study we need to create the three questionnaire instruments as Google docs - please contact us to help with this melanie @ DIYgenomics.org


Title: Polyamory Personal Genomics Study: Emotional Capability and Attitudes Towards Relationship Styles


Summary: This study seeks to investigate a potential link between personal genomic profiles and lifestyle selections. Polyamory, open relationships, non-monogamy, examined monogamy and other relationship models are emerging and have been the subject of various studies [REFx-x], though none yet looking at connecting lifestyle choices with underlying personal genomic profiles. This study is an implementation of ideas related to genomics, non-monogamy, monogamy as a social construct, and relationship models of the future as discussed in Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships (Ryan, Jetha 2010)  and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (Matt Ridley 2003).

Hypothesis: Personal genomics may be linked with polyamory, in which people make commitments to multiple romantic partners at once, with the full consent of everyone involved.


Study conduct: The study is conducted by crowdsourcing participants to provide relevant personal genetic SNP data and answer study-standardized online questionnaires.



1. Genomic Analysis

  • Genetic polymorphisms will be reviewed that other studies have connected to personality attributes such as openness to experience, optimism, empathy, extraversion, and altruism. Respectively, OXTR rs53576,[i],[ii],[iii] DRD2/ANKK1 rs1800497,[iv] COMT Val158Met rs4680,[v] and CRHR1[vi] have been associated respectively with optimism and empathy, extraversion, and altruism, and additional DRD2 SNPs related to openness to experience (rs4274224, rs4581480 and rs12364283, rs2283265, and rs1076560).[vii]
  • Other neural processes to investigate are reward processing, reward anticipation, action-taking, risk-taking and risk-avoidance, and impulse control. The genes linked to these neural processes are 5-HTTLPR, COMT Val(158)Met, T102C, DRD2/ANKK1, PDYN. Specifically, neurotransmitter operations are critical in decision-making, reward processing, and loss aversion, particularly those regulated by serotonin SNP 5-HTTLPR rs25531 (He 2012) and dopamine SNP COMT Val(158)Met rs4680 (He 2012, Farrell 2012, Schmack 2008). Serotonin receptor polymorphism T102C rs6313 is also implicated, in the area of impulse control (Wilson 2012). Propensity for risk-taking SNPs may be evaluated in the loss aversion context: DRD2/ANKK1 rs1800497 (Smillie 2011) and DRD2 rs4274224, rs4581480, rs12364283, rs2283265, and rs1076560 (Peciña 2012).
  • Other polymorphisms will be reviewed regarding the area of the brain involved with self-referentiality (the medial prefrontal cortex (Abraham 2013, Jenkins 2011)). Some of the genes and SNPs involved in processes in the medial prefrontal cortex are: GABRA2 rs279871 (Kareken 2010, Beevers 2009), BDNF Val66Met rs6265 (Pattwell 2012), COMT Val158Met rs4680 (He 2012), and 5-HTTLPR rs4795541, rs25531 (Ma 2013).


2. Phenotypic Analysis


Potential independent advisor review - Polyamory Research Community:

Dr. Mark Attridge, Social Psychologist and Research Scholar, Attridge Consulting, Inc. (study link)


Potential citizen ethicist review: (see Ethical Review Q&A)

Alexander Gerlyand, Biotechnology professional

Amanda Kahn-Kirby, Biotechnology professional



Polyamory research-related:  


[i] Saphire-Bernstein S, Way BM, Kim HS, Sherman DK, Taylor SE. Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is related to psychological resources. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):15118-22.

[ii] Kogan A, Saslow LR, Impett EA, Oveis C, Keltner D, Rodrigues Saturn S. Thin-slicing study of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and the evaluation and expression of the prosocial disposition. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 14.

[iii] Rodrigues SM, Saslow LR, Garcia N, John OP, Keltner D. Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 15;106(50):21437-41.

[iv] Smillie LD, Cooper AJ, Pickering AD. Individual differences in reward-prediction-error: extraversion and feedback-related negativity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2011 Oct;6(5):646-52.

[v] Reuter M, Frenzel C, Walter NT, Markett S, Montag C. Investigating the genetic basis of altruism: the role of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2011 Oct;6(5):662-8.

[vi] Refojo D, Schweizer M, Kuehne C, Ehrenberg S, Thoeringer C, Vogl AM, Dedic N, Schumacher M, von Wolff G, Avrabos C, Touma C, Engblom D, Schütz G, Nave KA, Eder M, Wotjak CT, Sillaber I, Holsboer F, Wurst W, Deussing JM. Glutamatergic and dopaminergic neurons mediate anxiogenic and anxiolytic effects of CRHR1. Science. 2011 Sep 30;333(6051):1903-7.

[vii] Peciña M, Mickey BJ, Love T, Wang H, Langenecker SA, Hodgkinson C, Shen PH, Villafuerte S, Hsu D, Weisenbach SL, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK. DRD2 polymorphisms modulate reward and emotion processing, dopamine neurotransmission and openness to experience. Cortex. 2012 Feb 14.

  • Abraham A. The world according to me: personal relevance and the medial prefrontal cortex. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Jul 2;7:341. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00341.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23847510
  • Beevers CG, Pacheco J, Clasen P, McGeary JE, Schnyer D. Prefrontal morphology, 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and biased attention for emotional stimuli. Genes Brain Behav. 2010 Mar 1;9(2):224-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-183X.2009.00550.x. Epub 2009 Nov 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20039945
  • Deeb SS. Genetics of variation in human color vision and the retinal cone mosaic. Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2006 Jun;16(3):301-7. Epub 2006 May 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16647849
  • Deeb SS. Molecular genetics of color-vision deficiencies. Vis Neurosci. 2004 May-Jun;21(3):191-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15518188
  • Farrell, S.M., Tunbridge, E.M., Braeutigam, S., Harrison, P.J. 2012. COMT Val(158)Met genotype determines the direction of cognitive effects produced by catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibition. Biol Psychiatry 71(6):538-44.
  • Haider NB, Jacobson SG, Cideciyan AV, Swiderski R, Streb LM, Searby C, Beck G, Hockey R, Hanna DB, Gorman S, Duhl D, Carmi R, Bennett J, Weleber RG, Fishman GA, Wright AF, Stone EM, Sheffield VC. Mutation of a nuclear receptor gene, NR2E3, causes enhanced S cone syndrome, a disorder of retinal cell fate. Nat Genet. 2000 Feb;24(2):127-31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10655056
  • He Q, Xue G, Chen C, Lu ZL, Chen C, Lei X, Liu Y, Li J, Zhu B, Moyzis RK, Dong Q, Bechara A. COMT Val158Met polymorphism interacts with stressful life events and parental warmth to influence decision making. Sci Rep. 2012;2:677. Epub 2012 Sep 20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22997551
  • Jenkins AC, Mitchell JP. Medial prefrontal cortex subserves diverse forms of self-reflection.Soc Neurosci. 2011;6(3):211-8. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2010.507948. Epub 2011 Aug 12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20711940
  • Kahneman, Daniel, and Alan B. Krueger. 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1): 3-24. http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533006776526030
  • Kareken DA, Liang T, Wetherill L, Dzemidzic M, Bragulat V, Cox C, Talavage T, O'Connor SJ, Foroud T. A polymorphism in GABRA2 is associated with the medial frontal response to alcohol cues in an fMRI study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Dec;34(12):2169-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01293.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20698837
  • Ma Y, Li B, Wang C, Shi Z, Sun Y, Sheng F, Zhang Y, Zhang W, Rao Y, Han S. 5-HTTLPR Polymorphism Modulates Neural Mechanisms of Negative Self-Reflection. Cereb Cortex. 2013 Apr 15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23588187
  • Pattwell SS, Bath KG, Perez-Castro R, Lee FS, Chao MV, Ninan I. The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism impairs synaptic transmission and plasticity in the infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex. J Neurosci. 2012 Feb 15;32(7):2410-21. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5205-11.2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20698837
  • Peciña, M., Mickey, B.J., Love, T., Wang, H., Langenecker, S.A., et al. 2012. DRD2 polymorphisms modulate reward and emotion processing, dopamine neurotransmission and openness to experience. Cortex.
  • Schmack, K., Schlagenhauf, F., Sterzer, P., Wrase, J., Beck, A., et al. 2008. Catechol-O-methyltransferase val158met genotype influences neural processing of reward anticipation. Neuroimage 42(4):1631-8.
  • Skinner RE, How to look at Computer Applications: Dante’s Universal Aesthetics, 2013.
  • Smillie, L.D., Cooper, A.J., Pickering, A.D. 2011. Individual differences in reward-prediction-error: extraversion and feedback-related negativity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci  6(5):646-52.
  • Verrelli BC, Lewis CM Jr, Stone AC, Perry GH. Different selective pressures shape the molecular evolution of color vision in chimpanzee and human populations. Mol Biol Evol. 2008 Dec;25(12):2735-43. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msn220. Epub 2008 Oct 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18832077
  • Verrelli BC, Tishkoff SA. Signatures of selection and gene conversion associated with human color vision variation. Am J Hum Genet. 2004 Sep;75(3):363-75. Epub 2004 Jul 13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15252758
  • Wilson, D, da Silva Lobo, D.S., Tavares, H., Gentil, V., Vallada, H. 2012. Family-Based Association Analysis of Serotonin Genes in Pathological Gambling Disorder: Evidence of Vulnerability Risk in the 5HT-2A Receptor Gene. J Mol Neurosci.

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