The Genetic Reason Why Some People Are Born To Travel All Over The World

Categories: Extra

This is a good article that discusses why there is the desire in some people to explore and leave their known environment and travel and why there are others that are happy and content staying in place. 

There are some people who never feel the urge to leave their home. They’re content growing up in the same place, going to college in the same town, sitting on the same couch, and surrounding themselves with the same people.

This is a full transcript of an article found in BitOfNews, for the original you can find a link at the bottom of the page.

On the other extreme side of the spectrum are the wanderlusters– or explorers, rebels, thrill-seekers, whatever you want to call them – who can’t sit still and have a constant itch to explore. They have a thirst to see and experience as much of the world as possible. A thirst cannot be quenched no matter how many journeys or vacations they take.

There’s no one place that they call home, because home is everywhere.

It turns out, there’s a scientific explanation.

In 1999, four scientists from UC Irvine published a paper titled “Population Migration and the Variation of Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4) Allele Frequencies Around the Globe” that explored the migration patterns and gene pool distribution of pre-historic human beings. They were originally researching for links between dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) and Attention Deficit Disorder. While conducting the study, they discovered another weird correlation: people with the DRD4 genes tend to be thrill-seeking and migratory. And almost all study participants with this gene had a long history of traveling. From the study’s conclusion:

“As previous research has shown, long alleles of the DRD4 gene have been linked to novelty-seeking personality, hyperactivity, and risk-taking behaviors … It can be argued reasonably that exploratory behaviors are adaptive in migratory societies…usually harsh, frequently changing, and always providing a multitude of novel stimuli and ongoing challenges to survival”

The findings revealed a very strong association between the proportion of long alleles of the DRD4 gene in a population and its prehistorical macro-migration histories.”

The DRD4 bearers were genetically pre-disposed to migrate, but only a small portion of the human genetic pool contains this trait. Whereas most of the population preferred to “[develop] intensive methods for using limited amounts of land”, these DRD4 thrill seekers actively sought out uninhabited lands “for more successful exploitation of resources in the particular environment”


Map showing human migration from Mesopotamia. Source: National Geographic
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