The Genetics of Openness

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The Genetics of Openness

Date of Content: December 14, 2023
Written by: Harvey Talento
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


What is Openness?

Openness is a personality trait that shows how open-minded and curious someone is. Those who score high in openness typically seek out new experiences, appreciate diverse perspectives, and enjoy engaging in creative activities. On the other hand, individuals with low scores in openness often lean towards familiarity, routine, and conventional modes of thinking.

This trait is a fundamental component of the Big Five personality model, extensively employed by psychologists to characterize human personality.


Why is Openness Important?

Research findings consistently highlight the significance of openness in various aspects of life. 

Research reveals a strong link between openness to experience and career outcomes. A 2015 study highlights that individuals with higher levels of openness tend to achieve more significant career growth, with those scoring high in this trait being more likely to attain managerial and professional positions. Moreover, findings from a 2010 study suggest that high levels of openness are associated with a proclivity for seeking change and novelty, potentially leading to job-hopping and increased job instability. Intriguingly, individuals high in openness are also more prone to pursuing roles with higher job status or leadership positions.

Beyond career implications, openness plays a pivotal role in influencing various personal characteristics. It contributes to:

  • Creativity

Open individuals often showcase a greater capacity for creative thinking and innovative problem-solving.

  • Interest in learning and knowledge acquisition

Those high in openness tend to exhibit a strong curiosity and eagerness to learn, constantly seeking to expand their knowledge.

  • Social and political attitudes

Openness extends to one’s worldview, impacting social and political perspectives. Open individuals are generally more receptive to diverse opinions and viewpoints.

  • Relationships

The trait of openness has implications for interpersonal relationships. Open individuals may be more adaptable and accepting in their interactions, fostering richer and more diverse connections.

In summary, openness isn’t just a personality trait; it’s a key player in shaping career trajectories and influencing a spectrum of personal characteristics, ranging from creativity and knowledge-seeking to social attitudes and relationships.

Genetics of Openness

Recent insights from genome-wide association studies offer a compelling narrative, unveiling specific genes and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may play a pivotal role in shaping openness.

RASA1 Gene

Personality, encompassing a set of characteristics influencing thoughts, feelings, and behavior, has been a subject of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Notably, a meta-analysis revealed genome-wide significance for openness to experience near the RASA1 gene. The SNPs rs1477268 and rs2032794 demonstrated strong associations, suggesting a potential role for RASA1 in shaping openness. RASA1’s influence on personality underscores the intricate relationship between genetic factors and individual traits.


Specific SNPs within the protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type D (PTPRD) gene have surpassed the genome-wide threshold for significance in the context of openness. PTPRD was also modestly associated with Persistence, a component in Cloninger’s Temperament.

The study suggests that variations in PTPRD may play a role in shaping openness. Notably, rs2146180 stands out with the most significant effect. Understanding the role of PTPRD may provide insights into the genetic underpinnings of openness.

HTR5A Gene

The genome-wide association of rs1561176 near the serotonin receptor 5A (HTR5A) gene introduces an interesting connection to openness. Serotonin (5-HT) is a neurotransmitter implicated in various psychiatric conditions, and the proximity of this openness-associated SNP to HTR5A suggests a potential link between serotonin signaling and the trait of openness. I  This gene’s role in influencing openness warrants further exploration to comprehend the intricate interplay between neurotransmitter function and personality traits.

Non-genetic Factors Influencing Openness

In understanding openness, it’s crucial to acknowledge the impact of non-genetic elements alongside genetic predispositions. Here are some key factors:


Studies consistently indicate a correlation between age and openness. Generally, as people age, there tends to be a decrease in openness to new experiences. This shift is attributed to the cumulative effect of life experiences and evolving perspectives over time.


Geographical location plays a role in shaping openness. Research suggests that individuals living on the coast tend to exhibit higher levels of openness compared to those residing in the inland areas. The connection between physical environment and personality traits highlights the relevance of location in understanding openness.

Shared Environmental Factors

Shared factors within families contribute to the environmental influences on openness. Gross paternal income, as an example, highlights distinctions in the general environment experienced by individuals from various family backgrounds. Economic and social factors shared within families can impact the overall openness of individuals.

Non-Shared Environmental Factors

Even within the same household, individuals may experience differential treatment, leading to non-shared environmental factors. Siblings growing up in the same family may encounter unique experiences, contributing to variations in openness. These micro-environmental dynamics emphasize the importance of considering individualized influences within familial settings.

In summary, age-related shifts, geographical context, and environmental factors beyond genetics significantly contribute to the nuanced understanding of openness. Recognizing these practical influences provides a more comprehensive perspective on how individuals navigate and express their openness to new ideas and experiences.

How To Be More Open To Experiences?

To enhance your openness to experiences, consider incorporating the following tips:

  • Boost confidence

Engage in activities that instill confidence, such as exercise or pursuing hobbies you enjoy. Building self-assurance can make you more at ease when exploring new endeavors.

  • Explore new cultures

Broaden your horizons by traveling to different places, learning new languages, or trying diverse cuisines. Exposure to various lifestyles encourages an appreciation for different perspectives.

  • Foster curiosity

Cultivate an inquisitive mindset through activities such as asking questions, reading, watching documentaries, or exploring new subjects. This approach expands knowledge and sparks imagination.

  • Embrace creativity

Express yourself through various forms of creativity, whether it’s art, music, or writing. Engaging in creative pursuits can uncover new facets of yourself and the world.

  • Challenge yourself

Set goals that extend beyond your comfort zone, such as acquiring a new skill, taking calculated risks, or solving complex problems. These challenges foster personal growth and help overcome fears.

  • Maintain open-mindedness

Listen to diverse opinions, perspectives, and feedback. Strive to understand differing viewpoints and the reasons behind them. This practice aids in avoiding bias and prejudice.

  • Cultivate a growth mindset

Foster the belief that abilities can be improved, and lessons can be gleaned from mistakes. This mindset encourages embracing challenges and viewing them as opportunities for personal growth.

By incorporating these practical suggestions into your routine, you can actively work towards fostering a greater openness to experiences in both your personal and professional life.

About the LifeDNA Personality and Cognition Report

Embark on a journey of self-discovery with the LifeDNA Personality and Cognition Report! Delve into the genetic intricacies that shape your predisposition towards open-mindedness, curiosity, and your unique approach to new experiences.

The LifeDNA Personality and Cognition Report can provide you with a personalized roadmap to navigate and enhance your openness. Start your personalized journey of self-discovery with LifeDNA by obtaining your report today!


  • Openness is a personality trait reflecting open-mindedness, curiosity, and a propensity for new experiences.
  • Openness significantly influences career growth, creativity, learning, social attitudes, and relationships, playing a vital role in various aspects of life.
  • Genetic studies highlight specific genes and their SNPs, such as those in RASA1, PTPRD, and HTR5A, contributing to the understanding of the genetic basis of openness.
  • Environmental factors, including age, location, and shared and non-shared factors within families, contribute significantly to the nuanced understanding of openness.
  • Enhancing openness involves boosting confidence, exploring new cultures, fostering curiosity, embracing creativity, challenging oneself, maintaining open-mindedness, and cultivating a growth mindset.


Customer Reviews

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Christopher Devlin
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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

Our reports and suggestions do not diagnose or treat any health conditions or provide any medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes or if you have any other concerns about your results.