Culture, serotonin receptor polymorphism and locus of attention

Heejung S. Kim, David K. Sherman, Shelley E. Taylor, Joni Y. Sasaki, Thai Q. Chu, Chorong Ryu, Eunkook M. Suh, Jun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


The present research examined the interaction between genes and culture as potential determinants of individuals' locus of attention. As the serotonin (5-HT) system has been associated with attentional focus and the ability to adapt to changes in reinforcement, we examined the serotonin 1A receptor polymorphism (5-HTR1A). Koreans and European Americans were genotyped and reported their chronic locus of attention. There was a significant interaction between 5-HTR1A genotype and culture in the locus of attention. Koreans reported attending to the field more than European Americans, and this cultural difference was moderated by 5-HTR1A. There was a linear pattern such that those homozygous for the G allele, which is associated with reduced ability to adapt to changes in reinforcement, more strongly endorsed the culturally reinforced mode of thinking than those homozygous for the C allele, with those heterozygous in the middle. Our findings suggest that the same genetic predisposition can result in divergent psychological outcomes, depending on an individual's cultural context.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbernsp040
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sept 7

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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