Interactive Predispositions

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Tabery, James
conference paper description
The concept of gene-environment interaction, or G×E, refers to cases where different genetic groups phenotypically respond differently to the same array of environments. In a widely acclaimed study from 2002, researchers found a case of G×E for a gene controlling neuroenzymatic activity (low vs. high), exposure to childhood maltreatment, and the development of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Cases of G×E are generally characterized as evincing a genetic predisposition; for example, individuals with low neuroenzymatic activity are described as having a genetic predisposition to ASPD. I argue that the concept of a genetic predisposition fundamentally misconstrues these cases of G×E. This misconstrual will be diagnosed, and then a new concept—interactive predisposition—will be introduced. I conclude by examining how recent debates over screening for individual predispositions is related to older debates about group differences between populations, drawing on lessons of the latter to inform the former.