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Are mean people born that way?
April 18th, 2012
09:27 AM ET

Are mean people born that way?

Let's face it - everyone isn't nice. In fact, being nice is more difficult for some people than others. But is it possible that "niceness" is predetermined by our genes?

A new study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this: If you think the world is full of threatening people, you're not going feel compelled to be generous by doing things like volunteering and donating to charity. But if you have certain gene variants, you're more likely to be nice anyway.

Now hold on a minute - this doesn't give your mean neighbor an excuse to blame his DNA for not letting kids on the block play on his lawn.

It's a little more complicated than that.

The research: A few questions and some spit 

Researchers offered an online survey to participants asking questions like:

–do people have a duty to pay taxes?

–are people basically good or bad?

–do you engage in charitable activities?

Then some participants sent in samples of their saliva so researchers could check out their DNA. A total of 348 U.S. residents were included in the final analysis.

Researchers analyzed the spit samples. They looked at the particular variants of receptor genes these people had for the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.

In case you're wondering, oxytocin and vasopressin are very similar structurally, and seem to have some similar social effects. For example, they're both associated with pair bonding - aka bringing closer together two spouses or a mom and her child.

In fact, that's why oxytocin has been called "the cuddle hormone."

But while the hormones have similar effects on the brain, they differ in the rest of the body. Oxytocin can induce labor. Vasopressin increases when you're thirsty and prevents the formation of urine.

As the authors of the new study expected, people who see the world as a threatening place tended to not engage in charitable activities - except if they had particular variants of the receptor genes that the researchers were looking for.

It turns out that if the receptors are especially sensitive to oxytocin and vasopressin, even people who fear others in society will do nice things, said Michael Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo and study co-author.

"We’ve found that these genes also predict people’s willingness to be nice on behalf of other people or aggressive on behalf of other people," Poulin said. In other words, such biological factors may influence your willingness to defend someone else.

That is consistent with other research, which found that rat mothers are more willing to be aggressive on behalf of pups when they received oxytocin.

Previous research has also shown that these hormones make people more socially active.

Blame the DNA?

Keep in mind that this study only shows associations between genes, hormones and behavior, and doesn't prove direct causal links.

It's not a "blame your DNA" situation, Poulin said.

"While we found some interesting interactions with genes and perceptions of the world, I would resist saying that we found genes that control behavior," he cautioned.

The next step for this area of study is to look at how sensitive people are to different kinds of threats.

A few questions that might be posed by future researchers:

–Is it important for people to believe they're helping good people?

–Is there something in a person's background or upbringing that influences how threatening they believe the world is?

Poulin and colleagues will also look at what other behaviors these genes might influence.

So it's probably a little too early for mean people to start using their DNA as a convenient excuse for their bad behavior. But maybe someday...


soundoff (374 Responses)
  1. Josh

    I believe the 3 Stooges solved this one in 1935. Google search "Three Stooges Hoi Polloi".

    April 18, 2012 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • just another brick

      Beautiful answer, I needed a good laugh.
      WHy are we wasting money on a study like this anyway ?
      Oh darn, my meaness is showing. Sorry

      April 18, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
    • jj

      just another brick.....why are "we" wasting money on this study? Who's "we"?

      April 18, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
    • Melanie Jones

      I'm mean and I love it.. I'm a store manager for a Walgreens in Sandy oregon.. This is boring, but I love being mean !

      April 18, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      @ Melanie Jones – Your a dumba**! Don't give out your full name on CNN while telling us your job position and where you work! Now someone can file a complaint against you. Nice going. -.- For a manager, your not that bright.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Melanie, great leadership style. I guess when your employees' loyalty to you is based on whether they need a check, then you can be that way.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Jackola

      Thanks for the laugh. To us the stooges to illustrate a point is the ultimate in good humor.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Remind me not to shop at Walgreen's in Sandy Oregon!

      April 18, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      Perhaps, I'm stating the obvious, but I suspect "Melanie Jones" is the supervisor of the disgruntled employee who actually posted.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
  2. Cameron

    A solution to "mean people".

    Better, more rigorous parenting.

    What an idea.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mathew

      Some people are mean because of this rigorous parenting. Some people may rebel from it, some people may become mean because of it, and some people may excel under it.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse |
    • SilentBoy741

      The solution to mean people is to indiscriminately beat the cr#p out of them. That didn't sound too mean, did it?

      April 18, 2012 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
  3. DE

    Mean people are born and then become republibigots.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sunnygetsblue

      well said DE

      April 18, 2012 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
    • ST

      But guess what? Republicans tend to donate the most to charities. Granted, they're church-affiliated, but non-profit charities nonetheless. And I'm a liberal.

      April 18, 2012 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
    • just another brick

      Talk about being mean, when was the last time one of those " republibigots" insulted you ?

      April 18, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Not what I heard. I heard liberals are more generous when it comes to charity.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Terry48

      Some of the most bitter, mean-spirited people you see in the media are Democrats. Sorry but it is true....Pelosi, Reid,, and too many others to name here. Not to mention our illustrious President who blames the poor outcome of his disastrous policies on anyone but himself. He is known as Mister Thin Skin, and he has a huge chip on his shoulder.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • robovox

      ST,

      There's a big difference between giving to charities (nice tax write off, by the way) and being charitable.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • TSB8C

      Republicans donate more to charities, donate more volunteer labor, have lower divorce rates, and like people keep more of their own money. Democrats donate less and take more. Who are the meanies?

      April 18, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • Caldude

      Get gov't data. conservative give more to charity while liberal rely on the gov't to do so.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Conservatism and religion can make one ignorant because you close off you mind to knowlege, Ignorance can make one defensive, being defensive can make one mean.

      Thus is created Ted Nugent.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • matt

      DE – You just proved that Dems are the biggest bullies.
      Boo- Liberals are the most generous at giving away other people's money, not their own.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
    • awasis

      Giving money to charity doesn't indicate that you are nice. I had a rich boss that give money to charity but was a huge dick to people. And he was Repud.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • aja2007

      Well, you know what they say: If you aren't a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you aren't a conservative by 40 you have no brain.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lila

      The "charity" they give is to their church or is church related. I don't see how that counts.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • CosmicC

      The only facts I can lay my hands on regarding charitable giving is for the current crop of presidential candidates. Obama gave 14.2% of his income, Romney 13.8%. Gingrich and Santorum less than 3%.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • Look at the kettle...

      Yeah, your comment sure proves that all right.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  4. UncleM

    The GOP needs to find voters from somewhere.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • just another brick

      They get created everyday after reading comments like yours.

      April 18, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse |
    • UncleM

      The comment hit a nerve didn't it, @just another brick

      April 18, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  5. dee

    This article is stupid.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. fekt

    so wait, what is this really testing? how people respond to oxycontin. I live in souther ohio i can answer that for you easily. they like it alot. enough to quit working start stealing and killing people for it until they ultimately take enough of it that it kills them. this is pretty common knowledge around here.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • unegen

      Oxytocin, numbnut. Not oxycontin.

      April 18, 2012 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
    • ChadRT

      fekt ...Ok, that was a stupid comment or a not very funny joke. Oxytocin. May be they need to find the gene for ignorant people and people who make bad jokes next.

      April 18, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • Tzckrl

      Well, we all know oxycontin is bad - just look at Rush Limbarf. This test was for oxytocin, but they should have gone further and tested for oxygen, because too little can have bad effects and make you mean and also oxy-clean, because when you have clean clothes you feel better, and when they're dirty you might feel a little mean. That said, it is oxymoronic to claim Republicans are nicer, more generous than Dems, as some of these commenters have claimed.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
  7. someone

    The article talks about OXYTOCIN not oxycontin.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tamars

    i hope no tax dollars (NIH, DOE, DOD, etc.) paid for this "research". meanness can't be reduced to such simplistic thinking.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      I hope no tax dollars get wasted in Iraq. Oh wait- too late.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
  9. MrApplesauce

    I'm usually* nice to people who are nice to me and indifferent to people who aren't.

    * – real world isn't simple, so by mistake or design, sometimes treat people differently.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dolce21

    Mean people I believe are either hurt badly while young, or chose to be that way to keep isolated. Or its in the genes. There are variable reasons why people are mean, all I have to do is smile, at people and 99% of the time I get a smile back, or if like I get in line with a checkout, or a person serving, and they act indifferent or mean, I just say I am so sorry your having a bad day hope it gets better for you. And they say thank you in a nice way. It could be the way we come across to others.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      If you are getting "indifferent" service from someone and you tell them that you are sorry they are having a bad day, that is an overreach and presumptuous on your part. News flash-people are not happy and smiling all the time. Deal with it.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  11. Robert Fisher

    I have observed for over 60 years people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. You will very rarely find people who feel good about themselves that are hateful or bigots. People hate because they see in others what they themselves want to be. The haters who refuse to respect the office of the president,look at them. They are unattractive, in most cases ignorant and are jealous of all of the fine qualities of President Obama. Look around, observe and you will see what I mean.

    Robert

    April 18, 2012 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pappa Smurf

      So is that true of everyone who said bad things of any president, or just Obama?

      April 18, 2012 at 10:51 | Report abuse |
    • just another brick

      What happens when you don't respect the potus because he and his administration just plain suck ?

      April 18, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      just another brick...if you can't be specific as to why "Obama and his adminstration suck" noone can answer your question. I despised Bush and his cronies and I can list ad naseum as to why.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:10 | Report abuse |
    • Caldude

      Oh, sure... anyone who disagrees with presidebt Obama is an idiot and a racist.... I agree...lol tsssssssss....

      April 18, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
    • aja2007

      Try your best to come up for air from Obamas rear.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  12. sunnygetsblue

    I'd bet on President Obama having the kindness receptor gene. Mitt,?, Not so much

    April 18, 2012 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • just another brick

      Only one problem, Obamas receptor gene only kicks in if you fall in line with his reasoning.
      There has never been another potus in the last 40 years that has insulted and divided US citizens as much as BO has in his speeches.

      April 18, 2012 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Mitt does if it suits his audience....the guy panders and it's so obvious it's pathetic

      April 18, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      just another brick....that's your opinion. Honestly I think your seeing something about Obama that doesn't exist. You're projecting something and I'm not sure what.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • The way it is

      The most important task of effective leadership is the ability to make the unpopular (but necessary) decision.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
  13. badone

    A lot of times parents try to raise their children to be as bad as possible.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trailer trash

      Just like their pet pit bull, right?

      April 18, 2012 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
  14. just another brick

    So what is the ultimate goal of this research, develope a test and abort any fetus found to have mean traights ?
    Or is this just another in a long line of taxpayer funded studies because teh researchers can't find a real job ?

    Even mean people can be nice once in a while.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hey There

      just another brick –

      Give it a rest, will ya? This comment and all of your other comments are just proving the point of this article.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
    • c s

      The ultimate goal of research is knowledge which may be useful some day. When this knowledge will become useful is really hard to say. British scientist Charles Babbage invented a "Analytical Engine (1856)" that was the precursor to all computers like the one I am using now. Unfortunately the technology available to him was too crude for his machine to work but the knowledge about it became very useful in our time. I have no idea if this or any other research will become useful but research done in the past provided the basis for everything that we use today.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • D

      So what is a real job anyway? Do YOU have one?

      April 18, 2012 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • just another brick

      Lol,Obviously I am coming over as "mean" to you. Someone writes an article like this on a study but doen't bother to explain why someone would conduct such an obscure study. It makes one think why, and when dealing with a lot of things nowadays, the answer can be down right scary. Being mean or nice is part of human nature, just like winning and loosing. It's all part of the experience of life. Remove those things and existence will become downright boring

      April 18, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  15. Pappa Smurf

    Your not mean if you tell kids to stay off your lawn, it's because you don't want their parents to sue you if they happen to fall and get hurt. (you can thank lawyers for that)

    April 18, 2012 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. PantyRaid

    I'm an as s hole and my mother is a real b1tch. I believe this article to be true.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The gauntlet thrown...

      I'll put my pucker factor up against yours any day.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
  17. LisaM

    People have been cruel to me all my life for various reasons... my father abandoned me, my mom drank...

    But I do think people are basically good, I do go out of my way to help people, and I do give to charities... perhaps it is genetic. Mom had some issues, but was basically a very kind person. I've always thought some people just could not comprehend cutting others a break, perhaps I was right.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Vic of New York

    For years I've been saying that the pathalogy of Conservative Republicans is genetic. That's why you can't reason with them. John Dean also refers to this pre-diposition in his book "Conservatives without Conscience". He only fails to make the leap to identifying Conservative behavior as a genetic mal-variant.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sybaris

      Then you would really enjoy, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition". It's a good read and corroborates what you're saying.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • The gauntlet thrown...

      For years I've been saying that the pathetic spelling and literary skills of liberal Democrats is genetic. That's why you can't reason with them. It's PATHOLOGY, Viccy boy.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  19. MDH

    It's always been known that Fear feeds Hate. That is nothing new.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. robovox

    This article is right on par with CNN Belief section.

    "Factless News".

    April 18, 2012 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. ummmm

    no mean people are taught to be mean. I work with a few... ugh so annoying!

    April 18, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oh, really.

      They're taught? How did you manage to fail the test?

      April 18, 2012 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
  22. El Flaco

    Whenever there is a new scientific study, the two most frequent comments are:

    1. Duh! That was stupid. Everyone knows that. It's obvious.

    2. I hope MY tax dollars were not spent on that stupid study.

    Whenever you see one of those comments, you can be certain that the blogger knows absolutely nothing about science.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • VictimsAreMean

      A crooked family court stole my rights and money. No one cares. I'm mean now. That's genetic? Lots of luck

      April 18, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • D

      El Flaco- AGREED! Why are they even bothering to read the article in the first place? Just makes them angry.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • Conversely...

      Not true... but they do know reams about relevant expenditure of tax dollars.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
  23. QuackFunding

    It's too bad the "author" of this crap can't define "being mean" as a reaction to being victimized. Forget about external factors... "It must be genetic". Who's the QUACK benefiting from this ridiculous theory? Follow the money... What a mess.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Donnie the Lion

    If you combine 1) sociopathology; 2) mental illness; and 3) elevated testosterone, and throw in exposure to violence in news and entertainment, and expectations to succeed in social roles and in business, you are going to get a very dangerous person, almost guaranteed to kill or severely harm someone.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Is sociopathology not a mental illness?

      April 18, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
  25. WVLady63

    You forgot SOCIOPATHS. They aren't just mean, they are the consumate evil of the human race. They are born without a soul and go downward from there. If you have never been exposed to this evil of humanity, count your blessings! I live next door to one and it is a battle every single day. The only things they know are hate, retaliation, theft and doing evil every chance they get. They are ALWAYS a burden on Society, don't work, live off of the manipulations they can achieve on victims who have no idea what kind of people they are. There are four to every one hundred people. The only pleasure they get out of life is destroying anyone who crosses them.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tony Soprano

      Heah, heah.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  26. Dave

    I'd like to see a study to determine if mean and stupid go together. The less intelligent someone is the more prone they are to conservatism and prejudice. (Ontario study proved the latter)

    April 18, 2012 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NJBob

      All you need to do is look at the Republican Party! You have your answer!

      April 18, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • Step right up

      Both you and NJBob would be perfect "mean and stupid" test vehicles.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  27. JewsAreMean

    This explains why Jews are mean. They claim they're victims, and it's in-bred genetic. Great study. Makes sense.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TerminateThem

      Good. If it's genetic, we can cull it out before the birth.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Such a pity

      Too bad you and TerminateThem weren't culled as the best part of both of you ran down your mama's legs.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • TheJewishThreat

      The Jewish threat is: a) they'll steal from you; b) force you to complain; and c) call your complaint A THREAT. That's mean and palpable injustice. They are presently taking advantage of judicial immunity in OUR courts to implement this theft.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • TheJewishThreat

      The Jewish threat is: a) they'll steal from you; b) force you to complain; and c) call your complaint A THREAT. That's mean and palpable injustice. They are presently taking advantage of judicial immunity in OUR courts to steal.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  28. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, M.D.,NSCA-CPT

    This is only a piece of the science of the human genome that affects mood and temperment. Yet another recent study identified the specific gene on the human genome responsible for chronic anxiety and its manifestations including irritability, annoyance, easy to anger, heightened fear threat responses and overall "meanness". It does not have to be said that people with depression, particularly men, manifest negative, afflictive emotions.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Huh?

      Huh? Speak English.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Ahmisa WAS writing in English-very intelligently. That is why you didn't understand it.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • Transparency shows every time

      Don't worry about it, Huh. It's just a copy and paste to make somebody feel smart. The other one pretends to understand for the same reason.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  29. EugenicsScience

    This is great science. Some day we will be able to abort mean babies before they are born by testing the genetics.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • awasis

      Giving money to charity doesn't indicate that you are nice. I had a rich boss that give money to charity but was a huge dick to people.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
  30. Crotchety

    Goddam right they are.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. TiredODaCrap

    Seriously??? Now we are going to try to say that "mean" people can't help it? That they are born mean, or there is a "mean" gene???
    Goodness, what is wrong with this world. People make decision on how to live their lives, how to act, etc, etc. It is time that people realize that just because you CHOOSE to do something it does not mean that you are full of genes causing that action – or that you should be given a free pass! What a joke!

    April 18, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mckillio

      So is your knowledge of science.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
  32. Quit The Hate

    It just goes to show that people can't even comment about a study on meanness without being mean. Our society has deteriorated to a point where name calling, intolerance and being hyper-judgmental about anyone different from yourself is not only accepted, but expected. Example, calling someone a libertard or a Rethuglican. From "reality" TV to political pundits, its all mudslinging, cat fights and derogatory labeling of anyone who dares to have a differing opinion. Respect and politeness are dirty words these days, and it's just getting worse. I am trying to teach my children not to dislike someone just because they don't think, act or look like you, but society is making it a difficult job. I don't think mean people are born that way, I think they learn it from the people around them. The more socially acceptable meanness is, the harder it is to be a nice person in this world.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • awasis

      Same as it ever was. Nostalgia has a way of making things seem better than they really were.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • NC

      @Quit The Hate:
      Well said.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
  33. NJBob

    Are mean people born that way? Yes, that's where we get Republicans.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Look in the mirror

      Neatly proven by your mean-spirited comment. Can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e ?

      April 18, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
  34. E. Strooge

    Gosh darn right I'm mean & all my ancestors are mean! All this goody goody stuff never got us anywhere. Why, my ancestor drove a nail into the right hand of Jesus & Christmas is nothing but a beggars banquet. Why should I help that little old lady across the street & promote the crime of jaywalking? Charities? Bah humbug! I enjoy being selfish & have little compassion for those beggars who are losers. LOL

    April 18, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. hical

    so when liberals claim that everybody is born "good" ... and only the social environment corrupts them ... they were wrong?

    April 18, 2012 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • c s

      Does that mean that conservatives believe everyone born is mean and a liar?

      April 18, 2012 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • Odds are...

      They're wrong 99% of the time anyway. You figure it out.

      April 18, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
  36. Really me

    Mean ? Define mean .
    Mean as to do harm intentionally ? Intentionally mean .
    Hidden agenda mean .
    Some people can't be helped , their always going to be mean one way or another .

    April 18, 2012 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. DSBsky

    I have way to high levels, of all of these things then..lol..

    April 18, 2012 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. awasis

    Giving money to charity doesn't indicate that you are nice. I had a rich boss that give money to charity but was a huge dick to people. And he was Repud.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • D

      Tax break, baby.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  39. more2bits

    Mean people are made. Dumb people are born. Just ask Obama he knows all about the later.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • awasis

      Then there is no hope for you either.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
  40. The_Mick

    Do the genes cause one to lead a lifestyle that makes you mean, rather than the gene itself making you mean? For example, a gene that made you want to each too much fatty food may tempt you to shorten your life, but it's the fat that actually shortens it, not the gene. We teachers have an old saw that goes, "You know you're a teacher when you have a parent conference and within 60 seconds understand why the kid behaves as he does." You don't see the gene. You see something about the overall habits.

    April 18, 2012 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Bob

    There's no such thing as a good deed or a good person. Everyone is inherently selfish. Even "good" deeds are done because they make the person feel good.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • awasis

      So you have never done something for someone to help them out, that you didn't want to do? I guess you are selfish.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • rstlne

      Just because doing something makes a person "feel good" does not make it a selfish act. I, too, have become somewhat cynical about human nature, but in this case I believe you are perhaps being overly cynical.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
  42. anninny

    being mean is learned. our parents taught us discipline and to be polite and nice to others. but i learned to snap back at people otherwise people walk all over you, especially in the workplace. it's contagious. the mean people are teaching the nice people to be mean. it's not an attractive quality but i think unfortunately, we have too many mean people than nice people.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. clevercandi

    Mean people su ck 🙂

    April 18, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Ed

    So if they're born that way does it mean they are now a protected class under the ADA?

    April 18, 2012 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. rstlne

    I am generally a big fan of scientific and medical research, but this seems a bit senseless, even to me. I will say, however, that my mother was generally a mean person as she got older – and when questioned about it she said that "it is too hard to be nice." She could not explain herself any more than that. We did discover through her older sister (well after both of their parents died) that all of the siblings had been abused to some extent. Perhaps that had a lot to do with my mother's problems; I don't suppose we will ever know for sure.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. GySgtG

    nobody is a mean person. situations dictate. but the really question is why are so many people weak.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ms

      I disagree, to a certain extent. Yes, there are too many weak people, and I feel contempt for them. But there are also sociopaths.

      April 18, 2012 at 20:30 | Report abuse |
  47. Exterminatus

    Hopefully someday these people with the wrong genes can be weeded out by mandatory abortion.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. The Ripper

    Does this mean it's OK to bully?

    April 18, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. mklsgl

    Agreed that the most challenging and intellectually engaging question/pursuit/exploration is the sublime nature of human nature. There are, literally, at least a billion unique examples (people/personalities/selves) to examine and somehow form a 'bigger picture' study. When we delve into the characters in the texts of Homer, Chaucer, Austen, Dickinson, Dickens, Poe, Conrad, Eliot, Faulkner, et al, isn't that what we're doing?

    April 18, 2012 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rstlne

      Maybe you are examining/studying human nature when you read the classical texts you mention, but I pretty much just read those for fun or entertainment. I certainly never took any of Poe's characters as case studies in human nature – I just read his stories as good horror yarns.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse |
  50. Edales

    From what I have found to be true about people in general...they tend to be like their parents...either the female or male or a combination of them. At this point it gets more complicated in the "gene pool" (grand parents- great grand parents-etc- etc) of
    those who have passed on their genetic background. It's my observation -WE ARE PRISONERS OF OUR ANCESTORS .
    Happy people..mean people-funny people-smart people-dumb people-gay people-criminals-republicans-democrats – OR
    whatever Agree ... disagree....or ignore. "nuff said" ---Edales

    April 18, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.