Researchers at Kansas State University have completed a study that found strong correlations between leadership and the dopamine transporter gene DAT1. What they found was that individuals with the 10-repete allele in the dopamine transporter were more likely to be in leadership positions. But there’s more to it than just genetics.

The researchers found that people with this allele are prone to leadership positions, but only with the correct environmental factors. They found that many of these people tended toward mild rule breaking in adolescence, things like skipping class occasionally, which helped them to challenge paradigms and develop the skills necessary to succeed in leadership positions. Significant rule breaking and disruptive behavior, such as shootings, did not correlate with leadership positions.

On the other hand though, people with this allele often have trouble regulating their own personality, which can make actually working for positive change difficult. Such people have trouble following through, essentially.

So having this specific allele is not a guarantee that a person will become a leader, nor is mild rule breaking a signal of the same. There are too many environmental and historical factors that were not considered in the study. It does seem that the work environment is a big part of it though, and that leadership-inclined individuals need to have their own personalities balanced with others who are perhaps better at following through on ideas. Mild rule breaking may lead to new ideas for how to deal with a problem, but it seems like it requires someone else to take that idea and actually make it happen.

It is also important to note that this study found a correlation, not causation, which means that more evidence and experiments are required. The study was based on numerous samples, but for the hypothesis to be borne out, it would require specific studies with new subjects.


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