Genetic Influences on Self-Construal – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Genetic Influences on Self-Construal

Shi Xin Ooi

Shi Xin Ooi

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Research Mentor(s): Steve Shaw, PhD Candidate
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Marketing, Ross School of Business
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 5
Presenter: 4

Event Link


Previous literature has established apparent cultural distinctions between more independent, Western cultures and more interdependent, Eastern cultures that contribute to differences between self-construal, or the individual sense of self. In addition to the cultural differences between Western and Eastern countries, researchers have also examined this difference within countries that have high in-group cultural variation, such as China, and found that Northern wheat-growing provinces in China were more independent compared to Southern rice-growing provinces, which were more interdependent. Previous research has also provided evidence of a genetic link with individual levels of independence and interdependence, specifically related to genes involved in the DRD4 (dopamine receptor) sensitivity. Thus, this study aims to examine the levels of independence and interdependence in the context of comparing individuals from Northern wheat-growing provinces and Southern rice-growing provinces in China. A total of 512 students and graduates from universities in Beijing were given a 1 hour long survey with questions that measured independence and interdependence among other related constructs, and a blood sample of each person was also taken in order to analyze potential genetic links. The data was then translated into English and a principal component analysis was carried out, which resulted in independence and interdependence as two of the major components, among other constructs. Regressions between genetic data and self-construal measures were analyzed, which included genetic analysis of dopamine receptor gene effect and gene-environment interactions. The resulting data provided varying results, in which there was little significance between the levels of independence and interdependence and variants of DRD4 receptor type. This study does not demonstrate strong evidence between specific genes involved in dopamine receptor sensitivity and levels of independence and interdependence. Thus, further research examining more focused or specific constructs within independence and interdependence may be able to more clearly elucidate the specific gene-environment interactions that may be involved in cultural differences regarding these constructs.

Authors: Steve Shaw, Shi Xin Ooi
Research Method: Data Collection and Analysis

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