A positive match may bring about “the test says we’re compatible so we obviously are” thinking even if there are red flags indicating otherwise, leaving couples to remain in relationships they might abandon in different circumstances, whereas a low score may create or reinforce doubts in an otherwise solid relationship.
Most importantly, genetic affinity matching is a test case for what will be an increasingly prevalent challenge as we enter the era of widespread whole genome sequencing.
A leading hypothesis is that such “disassortative” mating will produce offspring with greater diversity in their MHC genes that will protect them against a broader range of pathogens.
Given that all mammals display similar genetic mechanisms, one might expect a similar genetic attraction to exist in humans, albeit within the context of the greater complexity of human relationships.
As one scientific review of the entire body of data concluded, “the mixed evidence …
makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions, [but] the large number of studies showing some MHC involvement suggests there is a real phenomenon that needs further work to elucidate.” Into this complicated field now come direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies such as Instant Chemistry and Singld Out.
This might argue for a heightened awareness of the importance of keeping a relationship on a positive keel.
Applying a similar concept are “pheromone parties” in which singles sniff well-worn T-shirts worn by members of the opposite sex to facilitate biological matches based on pheromones, the elusive compounds of attraction.It will be a challenge for each of us, the media, and companies marketing products to put this information in proper context, not ignoring it completely, but also not giving it more weight and significance than it merits.(To its credit, Instant Chemistry isn’t just about genetics—it also relies on a personality assessment as part of its compatibility calculation, which assesses a registrant’s social tendencies, dominant and submissive inclinations, and intimacy.) Genetic affinity testing provides an opportunity to start exploring some of the genetic influences of our lives that have long been shrouded in darkness and mystery.Indeed, a 1995 study found that single women, asked to smell and pick from sweaters worn by men, were disproportionately inclined to pick one worn by a man with different MCH alleles from their own.This suggests that our preference for a particular mate is influenced by our sense of smell, as is the case with other mammals.