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Thread: MAOA-L : Warrior Gene or Justice Gene ?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.

    Post MAOA-L : Warrior Gene or Justice Gene ?



    In June 2005, an unpublished study by Dr Rod Lea et al. was presented at the Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, then again a year later at the International Congress of Human Genetics in Brisbane, Australia. It literally send shockwaves to the media around the world. The study claimed to have identified a "Warrior Gene" by studying the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand.

    The aim of the study was to determine what caused the Māori to behave more aggressively and violently and to get involved more often in risk-taking behaviour like gambling, compared to New Zealanders of European descent. The gene that they found responsible was MAO-A, encoding the monoamine oxidase A, an enzyme which role is to degrade amine neurostransmitters like adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. Dr Lea's team discovered that people with the low-activity version of the gene (MAOA-L), producing less enzyme, have a higher level of aggression when provoked than those with the high-activity variant (MAOA-H). The explanation is that the level of adrenaline and other hormones and neurotransmitters soar following an aggression, and people producing less MAOA enzyme take longer to regain their composure (normal levels). The results of this study have since been replicated several times by other studies.

    The MAOA gene being on the X chromosome, men only have one copy of it and therefore their behaviour is more affected by the variant that they inherited. A key finding was that the MAOA-L associated with antisocial behaviour in men, but only against a background of prior maltreatment. Male carriers of the MAOA-L with a history of child abuse were especially likely to become violent.

    A newer study by Cary Frydman et al. from the California Institute of Technology claimed that MAOA-L carriers are better at making optimal financial decisions under risk (review by Nature News and New Scientist).

    About one third of people of European descent possess the low-activity version, against 60 to 80% in most Asian populations (Indians, East Asians, Pacific Islanders). Nonetheless, Asian people are not known for being more aggressive, violent or anti-social than Caucasians. If anything East Asian societies are generally more peace-loving, law-abiding and socially harmonious than Western societies.

    The well publicised study by Rose McDermott et al. (2008) from Brown University confirmed the link between MAOA-L and aggression following provocation, but added a crucial nuance. They found that MAOA-L carriers punished more readily offenders than MAOA-H carriers.

    Quote Originally Posted by McDermott et al.
    In this study, subjects paid to punish those they believed had taken money from them by administering varying amounts of unpleasantly hot (spicy) sauce to their opponent. There is some evidence of a main effect for genotype and some evidence for a gene by environment interaction, such that MAOA is less associated with the occurrence of aggression in a low provocation condition, but significantly predicts such behavior in a high provocation situation.

    One of the common assumptions of rational choice theory is that individuals are purely self-interested utility maximizers. However, research in economics and other social sciences has found that individual preferences can also include other-regarding factors, such as altruism, status, and fairness. In addition, individuals are often willing to incur nontrivial costs to influence others' behavior, even when such behavior can confer no direct or strategic personal benefit. In particular, humans readily try to harm others who have hurt them or their group, despite the fact that such behavior may not generate any future individual benefit. Because in many cases those who punish do not end up better off overall, it remains a puzzle as to why such behavior survives if it does not improve prospects for cooperation.
    ...
    Our experiment also taps into the growing literature on punishment behavior, in which subjects voluntarily incur costs to punish others. A key result from experimental economics is that even where individuals are not the beneficiary of any postpunishment change in behavior (because partners are anonymous and never meet again in subsequent rounds), they often pay to punish those who violate social norms such as cooperation or reciprocity
    In other words, the study has linked the low-activity of MAOA with two new essential behavioural strategies :

    1) altruistic punishment of others for the sake of society and fairness, even if it is costly and not personally beneficial. It means punishing cheaters and free-riders because they deserve it and just can't get away with it.

    2) holding long-term grudge against people who have harmed them, broken the rules of society, or committed crimes.

    Provocation can therefore be seen in a broader, more general context. It seems that MAOA-L individuals are more likely to take action when somebody is breaking the rules. The study also points out that MAOA-L carriers are less aggressive when not provoked, but much more aggressive when provoked.

    This is probably why Asian societies, and particularly East Asian ones (China, Japan...), are more law-abiding, tougher on crime and misdemeanours, and less tolerant of rule breakers in general (and incidentally also why the Koreans and Chinese still hold grudges against Japan for WWII, whereas most Europeans have put it behind them). As the Japanese saying has it, the nail that sticks out is hammered down. This strikes me not as a warring behaviour but as a righter of wrongs or upholder of the law type of behaviour. That's why I think it is more appropriate to dub the MAOA-L as the "Justice Gene" instead of the "Warrior Gene". MAOA-H carriers, on the contrary, have a more laissez-faire approach to cheaters and free-riders, and are less likely to hold long-term personal grudges against people who have wronged them.

    I believe that the nickname "Warrior Gene" survived because it is more evocative and serves better the interest of the media. I was dismayed to see that Family Tree DNA abused the credulity of lay people by offering an outrageously priced MAOA test (99$ just to determine the number of repeats in that gene) when it is possible to determine one's variant using the SNP's from a 23andMe, deCODEme or Navigenics test (look for rs6323; the G allele encodes the low-activity form, i.e. MAOA-L).
    Last edited by Maciamo; 23-10-11 at 08:46.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Whether rs6323 can, or cannot, predict whether you carry the "warrior" version of MAO-A has been debated in much detail on 23andme. The final consensus is rs6323 can only predict enzyme type, high or low, but not which version of repeats of the MAO-A promoter region (the VNTR/STR). The warrior version is generally thought to be the 3 Repeat, I believe.

    This was finally settled when several members ordered the $99 FTDNA test, and posted their results along with their results for rs6323:

    Here's a sum-up of the results:
    T rs6323 - 4 repeats/normal no warrior version
    T rs6323 - 3 repeats warrior version
    T rs6323 - 4 repeats/normal no warrior version
    T rs6323 - 3 repeats warrior version

    I guess you could argue G may always align with the warrior version, as no one reported otherwise; however, 2 "warrior" males carried T's and 2 non-warrior males carried T. I wouldn't mind if the G connoted the warrior version: GT here

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    I was tested by Warrior Roots; I have the Warrior Gene.

    I'm just off to re-form the Knights Templar and declare a new Crusade; I hear Iran is lovely this time of year...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nasturtium View Post
    Whether rs6323 can, or cannot, predict whether you carry the "warrior" version of MAO-A has been debated in much detail on 23andme. The final consensus is rs6323 can only predict enzyme type, high or low, but not which version of repeats of the MAO-A promoter region (the VNTR/STR). The warrior version is generally thought to be the 3 Repeat, I believe.

    This was finally settled when several members ordered the $99 FTDNA test, and posted their results along with their results for rs6323:

    Here's a sum-up of the results:
    T rs6323 - 4 repeats/normal no warrior version
    T rs6323 - 3 repeats warrior version
    T rs6323 - 4 repeats/normal no warrior version
    T rs6323 - 3 repeats warrior version

    I guess you could argue G may always align with the warrior version, as no one reported otherwise; however, 2 "warrior" males carried T's and 2 non-warrior males carried T. I wouldn't mind if the G connoted the warrior version: GT here
    That's good to know. I wish there could be a comprehensive autosomal STR test like 23andMe that analysed all the interesting number of repeats of some genes. One of the most interesting (besides MAO-A) is DRD4.

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    Just a follow-up, as went ahead and ordered the test: I am rs6323 GT and my son is rs6323 G...and my son is a warrior!

    Now we need to find an rs6323 G who is "normal, no warrior version" to confirm there is absolutely no correlation with G.

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    I guess I don't really understand the warrior gene. I'm a warrior have fought in a conflict And come from a whole line of warriors. But may not carry the gene. And somebody that has the so called warrior gene that has never tasted battle and that makes him a warrior? I have had my Y DNA tested and a deep clade but never this test. Not trying to offend anyone I just don't understand it

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    What if the gene is called war? the gene for the war, because if there is war warriors emerge. It would save almost no people on earth, would be more interesting to look for the gene of peace, some people or people who had never been at war at any time throughout history, are there?

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    I don't think you will find a gene of peace in any of us Europeans. If there ever was one it was killed off a long time ago. I just always considered being a warrior as a trained skill.

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    I have the Warrior Gene. I took the test out of sheer curiosity; the result hasn't changed me in any way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidCoutts View Post
    I have the Warrior Gene. I took the test out of sheer curiosity; the result hasn't changed me in any way.

    Do not be so sure, for any unforeseen could change the keyboard and put the sword to cut heads.

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    Thanks David and I meant no offense. My point was how they can classify such a gene as a warrior gene when history has shown time and time again that anyone can be trained to fight. Hell I may order the test just the fun of it

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    I can always use it as a legal defence should I ever Hulk Out and start hacking my co-workers/customers to death with a sword or battle axe. But I don't think that dog will hunt...

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by L.D.Brousse View Post
    Thanks David and I meant no offense. My point was how they can classify such a gene as a warrior gene when history has shown time and time again that anyone can be trained to fight. Hell I may order the test just the fun of it
    No offence taken. And I think "Warrior Gene" is just marketing. Just trying to make it sound cool. What the MAOA-L Gene is supposed to do is to increase one's aggression levels etc. But that does not automatically make one a warrior. Aggression is only part of what makes a person a warrior, IMHO.

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    Must be marketing, because these levels of aggression at any given time depending on many factors could end up in self-injury or confuse your loved ones with the enemy. There are defects that become virtue but also is reversed. Not sure if I want to know that I possess that power of destruction as it goes beyond and is most regrettable that the romantic idea of a warrior seen from a modern perspective that probably lets out the dark reality of a past much more sad.

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    I really have to get that test done . I feel that I have it .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert777 View Post
    I really have to get that test done . I feel that I have it .
    Mind if I ask why you think that?

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    That is my point Keegah I first heard of this test a couple of years ago. And my first thought was oh boy I can take the most un war like lad and turn him into a soldier/ warrior as done since the dawn of time Soldiering is a learned skill and all this test does for some not all is give them a easy out " I have the Warrior gene " without ever getting into the treanches living like a rat and risking ones life for a cause. Are you really a warrior if you never put on a uniform and done the above I don't think so

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