Introduction Humans are social beings whose experiences are ruled by complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors [1]. In-person social interactions represent the first means of sharing beliefs and making comparisons with others. Caregivers embody the first actors in social education. The attachment with one’s parents can be stable across development and can affect adult relationships [2]. Nowadays, social interaction has rapidly expanded through virtual environments like social networking sites (SNS). However, the quality and the frequency of online and in-person interactions may differ across individuals. We explored these variations in online interactions from the perspective of behavioural genetics, investigating whether the quality of early care experiences and of one’s adult relationships could affect the frequency in the online sociability of users who are genetically sensitive to experiences. Method The measures on the quality of in-person relationships we focused on are the parent-child attachment and the adult attachment, as recalled by Singaporean participants in the Parental Bonding Instrument (maternal care, maternal overprotection, paternal care, paternal overprotection; N = 57; 41 females) [3] and the Attachment Style Questionnaire (confidence, discomfort with closeness, relationships as secondary, need for approval, preoccupation with relationships; N = 58; 42 females) [4]. The genetic factors we examined are the polymorphisms within the regions rs2254298 (G/G homozygotes, A-carriers), rs53576 (A/A homozygotes, G-carriers) of the oxytocin receptor gene and the region rs25531 (T/T homozygotes, C-carriers) of the serotonin transporter gene. According to the sensitivity hypothesis [5], a genetic component can be either a risk or a protective factor to social distress in relationships. From Instagram, we extracted three variables as a proxy for the frequency of online interactions: the number of a) published posts, b) people that the user follows ("followings") and c) followers. The Social Desirability Index (SDI) was estimated as the ratio of followers to followings. Results We hypothesized multiple interaction effects between genetic groups and attachment scores on Instagram parameters, independent of the gender. We found a gene*environment interaction for rs2254298 on the number of Instagram posts [6]. In line with our expectations, participants with a genetic risk factor (A-carriers) and a past of poor paternal care produced less Instagram posts than those without this risk factor (G/G genotype). A significant interaction between maternal overprotection and rs2254298 also emerged for Instagram SDI. Interestingly, the same pattern emerged between maternal care and rs25531 on the SDI [7]. Specifically, users genotypically more sensitive to environmental influences (A-carriers; T/T genotype) exhibited an increasing trend in the Instagram SDI when they experienced positive maternal caregiving. In contrast, a decreasing trend of the same index was observed for those who recalled a negative relationship with their mother. T/T homozygotes also showed a greater number of Instagram followings than C-carriers when they reported a high level of confidence towards people in adulthood [8]. Conclusion A positive relationship with parents, as well as a high level of trust towards peers, affects the way genetically vulnerable Instagram users post, search for other users and increase their social likability.

Implicit associations among genetics, early care experiences, and adult relationships to social media behaviour.

Bonassi, A.;Cataldo, I.;Lepri, B.;
2021

Abstract

Introduction Humans are social beings whose experiences are ruled by complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors [1]. In-person social interactions represent the first means of sharing beliefs and making comparisons with others. Caregivers embody the first actors in social education. The attachment with one’s parents can be stable across development and can affect adult relationships [2]. Nowadays, social interaction has rapidly expanded through virtual environments like social networking sites (SNS). However, the quality and the frequency of online and in-person interactions may differ across individuals. We explored these variations in online interactions from the perspective of behavioural genetics, investigating whether the quality of early care experiences and of one’s adult relationships could affect the frequency in the online sociability of users who are genetically sensitive to experiences. Method The measures on the quality of in-person relationships we focused on are the parent-child attachment and the adult attachment, as recalled by Singaporean participants in the Parental Bonding Instrument (maternal care, maternal overprotection, paternal care, paternal overprotection; N = 57; 41 females) [3] and the Attachment Style Questionnaire (confidence, discomfort with closeness, relationships as secondary, need for approval, preoccupation with relationships; N = 58; 42 females) [4]. The genetic factors we examined are the polymorphisms within the regions rs2254298 (G/G homozygotes, A-carriers), rs53576 (A/A homozygotes, G-carriers) of the oxytocin receptor gene and the region rs25531 (T/T homozygotes, C-carriers) of the serotonin transporter gene. According to the sensitivity hypothesis [5], a genetic component can be either a risk or a protective factor to social distress in relationships. From Instagram, we extracted three variables as a proxy for the frequency of online interactions: the number of a) published posts, b) people that the user follows ("followings") and c) followers. The Social Desirability Index (SDI) was estimated as the ratio of followers to followings. Results We hypothesized multiple interaction effects between genetic groups and attachment scores on Instagram parameters, independent of the gender. We found a gene*environment interaction for rs2254298 on the number of Instagram posts [6]. In line with our expectations, participants with a genetic risk factor (A-carriers) and a past of poor paternal care produced less Instagram posts than those without this risk factor (G/G genotype). A significant interaction between maternal overprotection and rs2254298 also emerged for Instagram SDI. Interestingly, the same pattern emerged between maternal care and rs25531 on the SDI [7]. Specifically, users genotypically more sensitive to environmental influences (A-carriers; T/T genotype) exhibited an increasing trend in the Instagram SDI when they experienced positive maternal caregiving. In contrast, a decreasing trend of the same index was observed for those who recalled a negative relationship with their mother. T/T homozygotes also showed a greater number of Instagram followings than C-carriers when they reported a high level of confidence towards people in adulthood [8]. Conclusion A positive relationship with parents, as well as a high level of trust towards peers, affects the way genetically vulnerable Instagram users post, search for other users and increase their social likability.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11582/325132
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