Could social ineptitude or awkwardness be an inherited tendency? Professor Richard Ebstein and Dr Anne Chong from the National University of Singapore recently conducted a Singapore study that unveiled possible genetic sources for socially awkward behaviour. Find out more about their discovery.

The Goal of the Study

Fascinated by the possibility that genetics could play a role in social competence, researchers Dr Anne Chong and Professor Richard Ebstein decided to lead a study exploring this idea. They gathered a pool of 1,300 Chinese adults living in Singapore and did some genetic testing as well as some study of individuals in social situations. The study lasted for three years and took note in particular of the genes CD38 and CD157. Its purpose was to collect useful data that might help psychiatrists in Singapore understand how their patients’ genetic makeup affects social behaviour.

The Importance of CD38 for Social Situations

What they found was a fascinating correlation with behaviour and the gene CD38. People with lower levels of CD38 found it more difficult to “read between the lines” and interpret what another person was really saying. They had trouble distinguishing the finer points of social conversation and navigating tricky situations. Essentially, they were more literal, with a greater tendency to enjoy being alone rather than in social scenarios.

Gene CD38 in Males

The male participants in the study showed an even greater difference. Those with low CD38 levels did not seem to enjoy social chit-chat, and they did not have as many close friends. Men with higher levels of CD38 were more attuned to social constructs and scenarios, and they enjoyed being with friends. They seemed to have stronger communication skills and greater levels of empathy.

The Effects of Gene CD157 on Friendships

Another gene, CD157, seemed to be connected with the quality of the person’s friendships. Certain variations of this gene sequence indicated a greater appreciation of friendships, along with a greater sense of the importance of empathy and support. Those with lower scores related to this gene sequence had trouble discerning the value of friendships, support, and empathy. These findings mesh well with those of another Japanese study, which discovered a relationship between the CD157 gene sequence and autism.

Conquering Social Anxiety with a Singapore Psychologist

Perhaps your genetic makeup, which is partially hereditary, has something to do with the levels of social awkwardness or social comfort that you experience. However, you don’t have to live in social discomfort, even if your genes do predispose you in that way. With help from a good psychologist in Singapore, you can learn ways to work around your anxiety or fear of social situations. You can learn to develop closer friendships, manage anxiety, and improve your social reactions, thanks to the team at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. Call us today to find out more about our confidential, caring environment where you can develop better mental health in Singapore.

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Source: Straits Times, 22 Aug 2017