Bonding Gene Found in Men

Swedish researchers have discovered a "bonding" gene involved in the relationship behavior of men and their partners.

The team, led by Hasse Walum of the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm, Sweden conducted the research which involved 552 pairs of Swedish twins and their partners.

The twins and their partners of at least five years were studied. 82% of the subjects were married, while 18% were living together but not married.

The subjects were given a questionnaire, had DNA tests and were visited at home by researchers. The researchers also checked the participants’ scores on a test that estimates how bonded they are to their partners.

The study yielded that men with a certain variation of the AVPR1A gene got low scores on the bonding exam and were not as likely to be married as men who did not have this gene variation.

Researchers also say that if a man has two copies of this AVPR1A genetic variation, they are twice as likely to report that they had a marital crisis in the past year.

Women who claimed to be most satisfied with their marriages were women who are married to or are in relationships with with men who did not have this gene variation.

Research also say that the results show "modest but significant influence of the gene," which they also say shows that previous research done on a type of rodent called voles may prove true for humans.

This "bonding" gene theory was first tested on the prairie vole and its relatives. These prairie voles were choses for these study (and for other studies as well) because of their human-like social characteristics such as choosing one partner for life.

The researchers refer to a study involving voles which showed that the more bonded and social social ones had a genetic make-up that are different from their less social and more sexually adventurous relatives, the montane and meadow vole.

When this gene was transferred to non-monogamous mice, the critters’ social behavior became more like prairie voles.

The results of this study are published in the September 2 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.