Genetics and human behaviour: the ethical context


Published 01/10/2002

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Research is exploring how genes and the environment influence behavioural traits such as aggression, anxiety, intelligence and sexual orientation.
Fetal scan

Do we inherit our behaviour? Or does it depend on our upbringing? There is little doubt that genes do have some influence on our personality. But how much? Research to find out how our genes influence our behaviour is complex and controversial. There are concerns both about the science itself and the potential applications.

Genetics and human behaviour: the ethical context examines the ethical, legal and social issues that behavioural genetics raises. This summary sets out some of the arguments and recommendations which are discussed in more detail in the report.

What is behavioural genetics?

Research in the field of behavioural genetics aims to find out how genes influence our behaviour. Researchers are trying to identify particular genes, or groups of genes, that are associated with behavioural traits, and investigating the role of environmental factors.