Genetic differential sensitivity to social environments: implications for research.

Researchers have proposed a genetic differential sensitivity to social environmental (GDSE) model positing that individuals with certain genetic makeups are more sensitive to favorable and unfavorable environmental influences than those without these genetic makeups. We discuss several issues facing researchers who want to use GDSE to examine health: (1) the need for greater theorizing about the social environment to properly understand the size and direction of environmental influences; (2) the potential for combining multiple genetic markers to measure an individual's genetic sensitivity to environmental influence; (3) how this model and exogenous shocks deal with gene-environment correlations; (4) implications of this model for public health and prevention; and (5) how life course and developmental theories may be used to inform GDSE research.