You may have more in common with your friends than you think, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Your genes may be similar, too.
Past research has suggested that people tend to be somewhat genetically similar to their spouses and adult friends, likely because humans naturally gravitate toward people with whom they have something in common. But how and why does this subconscious sorting happen?
Overall, the researchers found that friends were more genetically similar than random pairs of people, and about two-thirds as similar as the average married couple.
This effect may be due to a concept called social homophily, or the idea that individuals form bonds based on shared characteristics, many of which can be traced back to genetics.
But there may also be a second phenomenon at work, according to the paper: social structuring, or the idea that people are drawn to others in their own social environment, which may itself be partially shaped by genetics.
“Are individuals actively selecting to be around people who are like them, or is it due to impersonal forces, such as social structures, that we all are affected by?” [researcher Benjamin] Domingue says. “Our evidence, with respect to friends, suggest that it’s largely the effect of social structures.”
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