AskDefine | Define predisposition

Dictionary Definition



1 susceptibility to a pathogen [syn: sensitivity]
2 an inclination beforehand to interpret statements in a particular way
3 a disposition in advance to react in a particular way

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the state of being predisposed or susceptible to something, especially to a disease or other health problem

Extensive Definition

A genetic predisposition is a genetic effect which influences the phenotype of an organism but which can be modified by the environmental conditions. Genetic testing is able to identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to certain health problems.


Predisposition is the capacity we are born with to learn things such as language and concept of self. Negative environmental influences may block the predisposition (ability) we have to do some things. Behaviors displayed by animals can be influenced by genetic predispositions. Genetic predisposition towards certain human behaviors is scientifically investigated by attempts to identify patterns of human behavior that seem to be invariant over long periods of time and in very different cultures. For example, philosopher Daniel Dennett has proposed that humans are genetically predisposed to have a Theory of mind because there has been evolutionary selection for the human ability to adopt the Intentional stanceref stance. The intentional stance is a useful behavioral strategy by which humans assume that others have minds like their own. This assumption allows you to predict the behavior of others based on personal knowledge of what you would do.
Powerful evidence for genetic predispositions towards certain patterns of human behavior comes from twin studies. The idea that human behavior can have a genetic basis has become controversial due to religious and politically-inspired positions with respect to common human behaviors such as homosexuality.

Genetic discrimination in health insurance

In the United States, individuals are at risk for loss of health insurance if they are discovered to have genetic predispositions for health problems. The National Center for Genome Resources found that 85 percent of those polled think employers should not have access to information about their employees' genetic conditions, risks or predispositionsref poll. The U.S. federal government has so far taken only limited measures against discrimination based on genetic testingref laws.
There is pending U.S. legislation known as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which directly addresses the issue of discrimination by health insurance providers and employers based solely on a healthy person's genetic predispositions.


  1. note poll The results of this survey are discussed here (January 20, 1998).
  2. note laws A summary of U.S.A. executive orders and proposed legislation is compiled by the National Center for Genome Resources.
  3. note stance The Intentional Stance (MIT Press; Reprint edition 1989) (ISBN 0-262-54053-3)

See also

predisposition in German: Prädisposition
predisposition in Hebrew: נטייה מוקדמת
predisposition in Dutch: Erfelijke aanleg

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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