Friday, May 16, 2014

A Suspect Article on Confidence

Reference: The Genes That Control Confidence - Do You Have Them?

This article on LinkedIn, by Katty Kay, has had 64,069 eyeballs | 677 thumbs up | 305 comments.  Why not, it's a catchy title (though misleading, as I argue).  Also, it leads off with a picture of a very attractive lady, presumably confident in her own right (but genetically so, who knows).

Mine was one of those comments:

There is something terribly concerning about this article! We have to define confidence clearly, and for the purpose of any research, we must define it operationally (i.e., in ways that can be researched). In either case, we don't have a clear definition in this article. Also, any measure of anything must have construct validity. What kind of validation tests have these scientists made to ensure that SLC6A4, OXTR and COMT do in fact relate to confidence? Might there be other, yet undiscovered, "confidence genes"? Moreover, making the leap from animal studies to human testing is fraught with risk and uncertainty. The genetic similarity among monkeys, rats and humans, notwithstanding, confidence is also psychological, behavioral and social in nature. How well did these scientists account for the full nature of confidence? Finally, Katty, your last paragraph actually diminishes the very thrust of your article and calls into question an exclusively genetic effort to research confidence.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

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