Which Traits Can You Blame on Your DNA?

How many of our traits can we blame on our DNA?
Height? Science says yes.
But how about competitiveness? Stubbornness? A love of sweets?
Below, we’ll look at these four traits and whether or not they’re connected to genes because…

Jack and Joe, the new release in my Hunt for Jack Reacher Series…

is due out August 25th, 2015. And one thing that came up over and over in my research was DNA.

Since Jack and Joe Reacher are brothers, they can chalk a lot of their similarities up to shared DNA. Lee Child, the man who created Jack and his brother, knows what he’s talking about when it comes to brotherly similarities. Lee himself has three brothers. One of them, Andrew Grant (14 years his junior), is also a thriller writer.

Lee Child and Andrew Grant

Lee Child and Andrew Grant

What does DNA tell us about Jack & Joe Reacher, Lee Child & Andrew Grant, and Kim Otto & Carlos Gaspar?

Height
Lee Child and his brother Andrew are exceptionally tall and both have blue eyes. Not unlike the physical similarities between Jack and Joe Reacher.

Jack and Joe Reacher

Jack is 6’5″. Joe is 6’6″. They’re both big and fair with blue eyes and broad shoulders. Of course, it’s not a given that brothers will be similar in size. But if the parents are tall, the children are more likely to be tall. If a child is not tall, but their parents are, scientists say it’s because the child has inherited “a big batch of short genes.” That clearly did not happen to the Reacher brothers.

Competitiveness
Jack and Joe are both competitive by nature. Joe is more cerebral. Jack is more physical. A Forbes writer tells us that there is such a thing as a competitive gene, and it is responsible for deciding whether someone will be a “warrior” or a “worrier.” The warrior types perform best under stress. The worrier types get overwhelmed by pressure. 

Are people with siblings more competitive than only children? What do you think?

Stubbornness
Is stubbornness genetic? Kim Otto hopes it is:

“I took a long pull on the beer, which wasn’t half bad, actually. I was feeling stubborn and belligerent and now I liked beer? Maybe my German DNA was more prominent than usual tonight. Dad would be happy.”
-Kim Otto in Jack and Joe

A study from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig found that one-third of all people have a mutated gene that makes them bull-headed. So if you’re stubborn, you can credit your genetics for this one. Another word for stubborn is tenacious, right? Tenacious people never give up. No matter what.  They know a bend in the road isn’t the end of the road. Sounds like Kim Otto, doesn’t it?

What about Agent Carlos Gaspar and his sweet tooth?
Hmmm. Can Gaspar blame his sweet tooth on his genes?? It may seem like a stretch but actually, there’s evidence that craving sugar CAN be genetic. According to a study by Dr. Danielle Reed of Monell Chemical Senses Center, genes account for 30% of our varied desire for sweets. In further defense of those with a sweet tooth, the study found that it’s not exactly that these people enjoy a sweeter taste more than the next guy. It’s that their sense of “sweet taste” is actually weaker, so it requires more sugar for them to taste the same sweetness someone else would taste with one sugar. Or, as the old saying goes, tastes vary.

So which of your traits do you think are inherited? Height? A competitive spirit? Stubbornness? A strong sweet tooth? Press the “Comment” button below and let me know!

Meanwhile —

Caffeinate and Carry On!

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4 Responses to Which Traits Can You Blame on Your DNA?

  1. Kerry Willett August 20, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Looking forward to your next book, Jacl & Joe with the great characters Gasper & Otto

  2. Arthur Berman August 20, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    I think JOHN CENA, THE PRO WRESTLER should be cast in the next Jack Reacher movie. Tom cruise is a wimp compared to jack reacher, and never should of been cast as Jack Reacher. It’s not consistent with the size of Jack Reacher

  3. Linda Kwolek August 20, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    After reading your commentary, I had to take a good long moment to answer the question of what traits can I blame on my genes. The only answer I could come up with is my genes come from a long line of procrastinators. My grandmother and father were procrastinators. I also with my sister are big at procrastinating. And now I see it in my son.

  4. Bill Wright August 25, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    I am trying to figure fear into the equation. EW2 was a white knuckle flyer (the 15+ hour flight to Sydney from LAX–two bottles of wine and–never mind). So, for Kim Otto, from another Thrill List 10 steps to get over flight fear…

    https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/how-to-get-over-your-fear-of-flying-i-overcame-my-fear-of-airplanes?share=c

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