In search of the mommy gene: Truth and consequences in behavioral genetics


Journal Article

Behavioral genetics has as its goal the discovery of genes that play a significant causal role in complex phenotypes that are socially relevant such a parenting, aggression, psychiatric disorders, intelligence, and even race. In this article, I present the stories of the discoveries of three such important phenotypes: maternal nurturing behavior and the c-fosB gene; intelligence and phenylketonuria (PKU); and pair-bonding and monogamy (vasopressin and oxytocin) and show that the reality is considerably more complex than often portrayed. These accounts also lay bare some fundamental misconceptions of this field in which genes hold a privileged place and inherently subjective phenomena are mistakenly objectified. © The Author(s) 2010.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rosoff, PM

Published Date

  • March 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 200 - 243

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-8251

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0162-2439

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0162243909340260

Citation Source

  • Scopus