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Intellectual Investment, Dopaminergic Gene Variation, and Life Events: A Critical Examination

  • Alexander Strobel (a1), Anja Strobel (a2), Sören Enge (a1) (a3), Monika Fleischhauer (a4), Andreas Reif (a5), Klaus-Peter Lesch (a6) (a7) (a8) and Kristin Anacker (a1)...

Abstract

Need for Cognition (NFC) and Openness to Ideas are intellectual investment traits that are characterized by a tendency to seek out, engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activity. Little, however, is known about the extent to which they are influenced by genetic and environmental factors. With the present contribution, we aim at furthering our knowledge on the mechanisms underlying intellectual investment traits by following-up on a recent investigation of the role of dopaminergic gene variation in intellectual investment. Employing a standard approach that relied on null-hypothesis significance testing, we found that, first, two dopaminergic genetic variants interacted in modulating individual differences in NFC, but not in Openness to Ideas; that, second, negative life events played a role in the modulation of Openness to Ideas, but not of NFC; and that, third, negative life events as assessed using another measure were only marginally related to Openness to Ideas while positive life events were associated with both Openness to Ideas and NFC, with the latter effect being also dependent on DRD4 exon III genotype. However, employing a Bayesian approach, the assumption of a genetic effect on investment traits was overall not supported, while the assumption of a role of positive life events in the modulation of investment traits could be confirmed, with a tentative increment in the prediction of NFC by adding an interaction of positive life events and DRD4 variation to the main effect of positive life events. Our findings underscore the importance to use different approaches in the field of personality neuroscience. To gain deeper insight into the basis of personality traits does not only require to consider genetic as well as environmental influences and their interplay, but also requires more differentiated statistical analyses that can at least in part tackle the often inconsistent findings in this field.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits noncommercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Alexander Strobel, E-mail: alexander.strobel@tu-dresden.de

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Intellectual Investment, Dopaminergic Gene Variation, and Life Events: A Critical Examination

  • Alexander Strobel (a1), Anja Strobel (a2), Sören Enge (a1) (a3), Monika Fleischhauer (a4), Andreas Reif (a5), Klaus-Peter Lesch (a6) (a7) (a8) and Kristin Anacker (a1)...

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