A new research study has found that genetic variations may have a certain influence in how much formal education a person can get. Around 74 genes were found in a study published May 11 online in the journal Nature.
The researchers said that genes have a minor influence, compared to social and environmental factors. Variables like motivation, social privilege, caring parents, great teachers and disruptive classmates are a stronger influence.
“We know that environment overall, not genetic factors, has the predominant impact on educational attainment,” said lead researcher Daniel Benjamin.
It’s worth mentioning that Benjamin is an associate professor at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.
Benjamin said that genes associated with education may influence biological factor that affects psychological characteristics like cognitive performance. Together, they influence educational attainment.
The study’s data was comprised from samples across the globe
The team worked with 294,000 European people in 15 countries. They found 74 genetic variants associated with the time people spend in education. The variants were verified with DNA, held by the UK Biobank, of 111,000 people, comparing both samples.
Therefore, a person who has more of the genetic variants, complete more years of formal schooling, on average. Benjamin said the genes for education do not exist and those genes do not affect education directly. Researchers found the genetic variants in the brain can be switched and create neurons, guiding movements and wiring them together.
The study suggests that the genes work with the person’s cognitive abilities and personalities, such as intellectual curiosity and persistence. The researchers have not specified the importance of each factor.
The research team found that biological factors influence psychological traits, and the last ones influence social ones.
The 74 genetic variants seem to have a tiny effect. The results of the study suggest that these variants influence an extra 3 to 9 weeks of schooling. The 74 variants explain only 3 percent of differences in education levels across the European population. When they added the UK Biobank data, it explains 6 percent.
The results seem to not be able to predict how long a person will stay in school. Robert Ploming, a behavioral geneticist, said the research is the base of further studies. The geneticist, who was not involved in the study, said that the findings can help tests identify people’s individual strengths and weaknesses.