Jun 11, 2014 - Research

Thanks Dad

If your eyes are brown, or you can wiggle your ears, or you love black licorice, it’s likely you should be thanking your dad.06092014_FathersDay_Infographic_large

As we near Father’s Day 23andMe wanted to take a look specifically at fathers, and the traits they are likely to have in common with their children.

While we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that a parent’s traits are often seen in his or her child, it’s interesting to learn that the odds a child will get a trait are different depending on which parent has that trait.

We recently wrote about our research that shows that while we get traits from both our fathers and our mothers, certain traits are more strongly associated with your mother.

But in some cases, whether or not a child has a certain kind of trait – brown eyes, for example – is more likely if their father has that trait.

23andMe researcher Emma Pierson calculated the odds of whether a son or daughter shared certain traits with their fathers. To figure that out she looked at 15,000 anonymous mother-father-child “trios” among 23andMe’s customers who consented to research.

Emma discovered that like with mothers, there are certain traits that if a father has them, their child is more likely to also have them, and often the odds differed between sons and daughters. So if a father has brown eyes his son is only six times more likely to also have brown eyes, while his daughter is 10 times more likely. She discovered that if your father is a morning person, his son is 1.9 times more likely to also like getting up early, while his daughter is almost two-and-a-half times as likely to be an early bird.

Why this is has to do with many factors. Some traits are clearly genetic, the color of your eyes, some of your food preferences, for example. Other traits are more complicated and may have more to do with socialization, as well as cultural and environmental influences.

It’s important to note that Emma looked only at biological fathers because of the nature of the data. These “trios” are anonymous and we are only able to show their father-mother-child connection through their genetics.

Obviously parenting is about much more than biology, and, as these traits show while genetics clearly plays a role it only explains some of why some traits are passed to a child and others aren’t.

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