Vantage Sensitivity: Environmental Sensitivity to Positive Experiences as a Function of Genetic Differences.
A large number of gene–environment interaction studies provide evidence that some people are more likely to be negatively affected by adverse experiences as a function of specific genetic variants. However, such “risk” variants are surprisingly frequent in the population. Evolutionary analysis suggests that genetic variants associated with increased risk for maladaptive development under adverse environmental conditions are maintained in the population because they are also associated with advantages in response to different contextual conditions. These advantages may include (a) coexisting genetic resilience pertaining to other adverse influences, (b) a general genetic susceptibility to both low and high environmental quality, and (c) a coexisting propensity to benefit disproportionately from positive and supportive exposures, as reflected in the recent framework of vantage sensitivity. After introducing the basic properties of vantage sensitivity and highlighting conceptual similarities and differences with diathesis-stress and differential susceptibility patterns of gene–environment interaction, selected and recent empirical evidence for the notion of vantage sensitivity as a function of genetic differences is reviewed. The unique contribution that the new perspective of vantage sensitivity may make to our understanding of social inequality will be discussed after suggesting neurocognitive and molecular mechanisms hypothesized to underlie the propensity to benefit disproportionately from benevolent experiences.
- College Publications