Behavioral geneticists identified a specific gene variation that could explain the infamous “INFJ” door slam — the tendency of people with the rare personality type to cut off contact with someone after a “transgression.”
But is ghosting or slamming the door a form of revenge or a way to reduce anxiety? The answer might depend on your personality type, upbringing and culture.
Research centers around one of the vengefulness genes. Depending on which of the three phenotypes of the COMT enzyme you have, your brain might feel rewarded for revenge behavior. What’s most fascinating, though, is the fact that a lot of females victims of a transgression feel rewarded not for exacting revenge but for avoiding/ghosting or slamming the door on the transgressor.
Most likely, the neurotic/turbulent INFJs and similar types are not feeling good because they hurt someone by ghosting them. Rather, the act of avoidance (or avoiding negative outcomes) reduces anxiety — which activates the reward areas of the brain.
INFJ personality types are not the only Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) types who are more likely to avoid transgressors (also known as a toxic EX). Ghosting others or slamming the door is associated with certain variations of the Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism (rs4680). This gene related to trait vengefulness is involved in dopamine catabolization.
If you have your raw DNA, it’s possible to check specific alleles to see if you have the genetics of someone more likely to seek revenge or avoid a transgressor after enduring anything from a major transgression to a minor slight.
Specifically, people with the GG alleles are more likely to forgive and forget. Those with at least one A allele will likely avoid a transgressor — particularly if the victim of the transgression is a female. That leads us to believe that estrogen has an effect on the way the COMT gene expresses. And, the estrogen system is often linked to INFJs and other feeling types.
Meanwhile, some people speculate that motivation to cut someone off (like the lyrics of the song by Gotye), is a passive-aggressive form of vengefulness but we know that’s not always the case.
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
Have your friends collect your records
And then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
— ‘Somebody That I used to Know,’ Gotye
INFJs and other types with extroverted feeling claim the “Door Slam” or ghosting is not about getting even but about self preservation or the safeguarding of people other than themselves (people caught in the crossfire). And, again, for turbulent and introverted people — avoidance brings less stress or the reward of peace.
Ghosting someone is, at times, a good way to re-set a toxic situation or relationship. For example, INTJ Professor Plum agreed to cease his negative talk and manipulative gaslighting after Ms. Scarlet ghosted him for almost a year. When they resumed a friendship, it was more rewarding because the professor was on his best behavior.
As far as the COMP gene studies, researchers used what’s called the Vengeance Scale questionnaires while zeroing in on rs4680. (You can do a search for rs4680 using raw DNA from ancestry or 23andme). Females with at least one copy of the ‘A’ allele had a pronounced tendency to avoid a transgressor.
With men, the results were not as profound — and skewed according to cultural background. For example, German males with one copy of the ‘A’ allele did not have a higher vengefulness in response to a transgression.
This, of course, confirms the nurture vs. nature sentiment that environment and culture has a significant impact on our personalities and behaviors.
Here are the 3 phenotypes of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism genotype and some of the speculative research. This is the genotype that modulates reward processing in the brain as it relates to revenge and punishing unjust behavior. This particular gene is associated with many health issues.
- COMT A/A with low enzyme activity. Higher levels of prefrontal dopamine. Also has a much higher risk of coronary artery disease. More likely to avoid transgressors. In some men, could be more vengeful. Revenge more rewarding for some.
- COMT A/G with medium enzyme activity. High risk of coronary artery disease. More likely to avoid/ghost transgressors. Intermediate catabolization rate of dopamine.
- COMT G/G with high enzyme activity. Lower levels of prefrontal dopamine. Lower risk of coronary artery disease. More likely to forgive transgressors. Catabolize three to four times more dopamine compared to AA carriers.