Author(s): Seabrook JA, Avison WR
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Genotype-environment interaction (G x E) refers to situations in which genetic effects connected to a phenotype are dependent upon variability in the environment, or when genes modify an organism's sensitivity to particular environmental features. Using a typology suggested in the G x E literature, we provide an overview of recent papers that show how social context can trigger a genetic vulnerability, compensate for a genetic vulnerability, control behaviors for which a genetic vulnerability exists, and improve adaptation via proximal causes. We argue that to improve their understanding of social structure, sociologists can take advantage of research in behavior genetics by assessing the impact of within-group variance of various health outcomes and complex human behaviors that are explainable by genotype, environment and their interaction. Insights from life course sociology can aid in ensuring that the dynamic nature of the environment in G x E has been accounted for. Identification of an appropriate entry point for sociologists interested in G x E research could begin with the choice of an environmental feature of interest, a genetic factor of interest, and/or behavior of interest. Optimizing measurement in order to capture the complexity of G x E is critical. Examining the interaction between poorly measured environmental factors and well measured genetic variables will overestimate the effects of genetic variables while underestimating the effect of environmental influences, thereby distorting the interaction between genotype and environment. Although the expense of collecting environmental data is very high, reliable and precise measurement of an environmental pathogen enhances a study's statistical power. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Journal of Data Mining in Genomics & Proteomics