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Other articles: February 2010

8 February 2010

Other papers this month:

An investigation of patients’ motivations for their participation in genetics-related research

Hallowell, N; Cooke, S; Crawford, G; Lucassen, A; Parker, M; Snowdon, C

JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS 36 (1): 37-45 JAN 2010

Design: Qualitative interview study. Participants: Fifty-nine patients with a family history of cancer who attend a regional cancer genetics clinic in the UK were interviewed about their current and previous research experiences. Findings: Interviewees gave a range of explanations for research participation. These were categorised as (a) social-research participation benefits the wider society by progressing science and improving treatment for everyone; (b) familial-research participation may improve healthcare and benefit current or future generations of the participant’s family; and (c) personal-research participation provides therapeutic or non-therapeutic benefits for oneself. Conclusions: We discuss the distinction drawn between motives for research participation focused upon self (personal) and others (familial/social), and observe that personal, social and familial motives can be seen as interdependent. For example, research participation that is undertaken to benefit others, particularly relatives, may also offer a number of personal benefits for self, such as enabling participants to feel that they have discharged their social or familial obligations. We argue for the need to move away from simple, static, individualised notions of research participation to a more complex, dynamic and inherently social account.


Genetics of behaviour and psychiatric disorders: from the laboratory to society and back

Frazzetto, G

CURRENT SCIENCE 97 (11): 1555-1563 DEC 10 2009

Abstract: Behavioural genetics aims to explain in genetic and molecular units mental dysfunctions that carry heavy societal burdens, and behavioural patterns that are pertinent to a vast array of an individual’s social competences. The purpose of this paper is twofold: to briefly assess the current conceptual and technological framework of this branch of experimentation, and to remind of its contextualization in contemporary society. Medicalizing forces in our society increasingly bring non-pathological conditions under the scrutiny of medicine and genetics. Reflexivity is required among practitioners of behavioural genetics, who need to be aware of how social norms and context can influence the selection of traits and behaviours as objects of their investigations.


Genetic and Environmental Influences on Risky Sexual Behaviour and its Relationship With Personality

Zietsch, BP; Verweij, KJH; Bailey, JM; Wright, MJ; Martin, NG

BEHAVIOR GENETICS 40 (1): 12-21 JAN 2010

Abstract: Risky sexual behaviour is a major health issue in society, and it is therefore important to understand factors that may predispose individuals to such behaviour. Research suggests a link between risky sexual behaviour and personality, but the basis of this link remains unknown. Hans Eysenck proposed that personality is related to sexual behaviour via biological underpinnings of both. Here we test the viability of this perspective by analysing data from identical and non-identical twins (N = 4,904) who completed a questionnaire assessing sexual attitudes and behaviour as well as personality. Using genetic modelling of the twin data, we found that risky sexual behaviour was significantly positively correlated with Impulsivity (r = .27), Extraversion (r = .24), Psychoticism (r = .20), and Neuroticism (r = .09), and that in each case the correlation was due primarily to overlapping *genetic* influences. These findings suggest that the *genetic* influences that shape our personality may also predispose us to risky sexual behaviour.

Twin research, revisionism and metahistory

Teo, T; Ball, LC

HISTORY OF THE HUMAN SCIENCES 22 (5): 1-23 DEC 2009

Abstract: We understand metahistory as an approach that studies how histories within a particular discipline have been written and focus on insider scientists’ reconstructions of twin research. Using the concept of ethical-political affordances we suggest that such histories are based on a management of resources that prove to be beneficial for representing one’s own research traditions in a positive light. Instead of discussing information on the context and intellectual life of pioneers of the twin method, which include high-caliber eugenicists and Nazi ideologues, and on how the twin method has been used and abused, insider scientists’ accounts present twin research as neutral, objective and void of any kind of political connotations. We show how important leaders of German twin research have been historically managed, and how their contributions have been distorted and omitted. Reasons for historical revisionism by omission and for selectively revised accounts of the past are discussed. Suggestions for writing accounts of the twin method are included and focus on the necessity of self-reflection, considerations regarding one’s own ethical-political inclinations, and review of the existing historical literature. In analyzing these connections, we attempt to understand how science, politics and history interact.

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