Are our likes and dislikes wired in our genetics?

Have you ever wondered how and why as a child you would have probably disliked eating vegetables but loved eating ice cream? How do such likes and dislikes come about? How are we able to change what we dislike into what we do? How does this matter to you as a student? This article seeks to find out. 

Born or Bred?

One of the goals of being a student is to score well in examinations. More often than not, you will not be able to come out top if you detest a subject that you are taking an examination for as you will find it a chore to study for it

Are our likes and dislikes wired in our genetics or are they there as a result of our experiences while growing up? The answer is, they are both true. 

Genetics

There are some behavior that you display that can be linked to your DNA. A case in point could be the strong dislike for the herb cilantro or coriander, often found in Mexican cuisine. A genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people traced cilantro aversion to a gene connected to smell, OR6A2, which is very sensitive to the smell that gives the herb its flavor. Another case in point could be that of coffee. A study led by the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers found that there was a genetic link between the responses to caffeine. This could relate to the variations in genetic diversity to the drug receptors, the part of the cell that reacts with the caffeine. This difference may determine whether a person has a positive or negative experience towards caffeine. 

Nurture

Of course your likes and dislikes also stem from your feelings towards past experiences. For instance, you could have fear instilled in you from your visit to the dentist by your parents. Published in the International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, a study from Madrid found a link between the fear levels between parents and children when visiting the dentist. As a child, if your parents are hovering over the dentist’s chair constantly reassuring you not to worry and that the dentist probing around your teeth will not hurt, you will feel like there is something to be worried about. If such fear is carried out to adulthood, you may be part of the 9-15% of adults who fear the visit to the dentist. 

Why does it matter?

As a student, this is applicable to you because you probably have come across subjects that you simply do not like. One of the goals of being a student is to score well in examinations. More often than not, you will not be able to come out top if you detest a subject that you are taking an examination for as you will find it a chore to study for it. Fortunately, since your dislike for this particular subject stems from both your nature and nurture, you can take actions to change your dislike around. 

How to change?

If you want to turn such dislikes around, it is important to know where the root of your detest comes from. Does it stem from you not being able to score well in examinations? Is it something as trivial as not liking your teacher who teaches that subject? Finding the cause of your dislike can help you to find the solution to it. 

If you feel that there is simply no solution to the cause of your dislike for the subject, one way to get around it is to simply ‘pretend like you like it’. As bad advice as this may seem, if you pretend that you are a student who loves the subject, it is easier to gain the motivation and drive to continue studying for it. You can also experiment with the delivery of the subject at hand. For instance, if you feel that the teacher in school does not teach the subject well, you can always head to the Internet where there is a wealth of information and podcasts to make use of that can explain the topic at hand in a much more fun way. 

In conclusion, even if you like or dislike something, since it may be due to both nature and nurture, there is always something that you can do about it to change your feelings and reaction towards it, so do not despair and instead evaluate your next steps towards your goal!

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