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Study: Choosing a hybrid is in your genes

A study of twins finds that many consumer choices are genetic. This includes such purchases as hybrid cars and sci-fi movies.

You know how the accusation begins: "You're just the sort of person who..."

This is followed by a judgment that you're just sort of person who, for example, buys a Corvette, the inference being that it's because you're balding, divorced, and have a regular Cialis prescription.

Two scientists got together to decide whether there really are "sorts of people" who choose to buy, say, hybrid cars.

Perhaps you might agree that the sorts of people who buy such lumbering golf carts are sanctimonious, guilty, and desperate to emulate Leonardo DiCaprio. However, Itamar Simonson, of Stanford University, and Aner Sela, of the University of Florida, decided to study whether people are genetically predisposed to make certain choices, even if it opens them to a touching level of amusement.

According to the Telegraph, these two scientists concluded that there is a large genetic component in many purchasing decisions.

Oh, look. A genetically modified Toyota. CC Global X/Flickr

Their method was to examine the differing patterns of purchasing behavior between identical and non-identical twins. And what wonderfully weird findings they encountered.

Apparently, identical twins share a tendency to be, well, emotionally conservative. They buy useful things, rather than pulsating ones. They eschew extremes. (Not Corvette drivers, then.)

But the most shuddering differences came over such apparently random purchases as mustard, chocolate, and hybrid cars. Oh, and sci-fi movies. Buying all of these, the scientists concluded, was significantly motivated by genes.

You might think that these scientists were looking for weird results. You might be right. But please consider that getting a tattoo does not appear to be genetically influenced. Neither does a preference for ketchup.

The scientists seem to be persuaded by the tendency that one's genes play a strong part in whether we choose to live on the edge or within strict and safe boundaries.

This might offer some sort of scientific light for the Lohan family, the Tea Party, and the chap at Google I had lunch with Tuesday who wore a nice blue shirt and khakis.

One can only hope these fine scientists do more work in this area.

It would surely be a blessed and psychologically uplifting relief to know that Toyota Prius owners really had no choice in the matter. It would be heartening to learn that those who unaccountably shove mustard on their burgers are being driven by forces far larger than their own lack of taste. And even those who enjoy this habit would surely feel reassured that it is their chemicals that force them to sit through "2001: A Space Odyssey" at least twice a month.

I don't know about you, but I'm jonesing for some chocolate.