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Human Genetics: Multifactorial Traits


Multifactorial traits refer to the physical and behavioral differences in human beings. Such traits include height, skin color, fingerprints, physical weight and height, behavioral conditions and tendencies, and eye color among others. Some traits are inherited while others are acquired depending on the environmental conditions of one’s upbringing. According to Mendel’s law, inherited traits and medical conditions are said to be a single gene. Hence, they are linked to the chromosome, hence inheritable within the family tree. Therefore, genes and environmental conditions mold most of the multifactorial traits in human beings (Cummings, 2011).

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Significance of Multifactorial Traits

Multifactorial traits are very important in the livelihood of human beings. Some factors explain why human beings are different in physical nature, and thus science has developed ways of utilizing those differences to distinguish individuals in a population. The most notable distinguishable multifactorial traits are skin color, eye color, fingerprints, height, body weight, behavioral condition, and tendencies. First, skin color is the most notable difference in human beings. Human beings use skin color as the basis for classifying themselves. However, science has proved that skin color does not bear a major difference in human beings.

Skin color is determined by the level of melanin pigments in human beings. The skin has special cells called melanocytes that contain melanin, which produces the skin color. The main use of skin color is to protect the DNA from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Human beings who lack melanin do not have a skin color, and the condition is referred to as albinism. Hence, science has proved that skin color serves the purpose of protecting the DNA pigments from the ultraviolet rays, which could be damaging. This assertion contravenes the theoretical beliefs that people have been having for many centuries.

In the United States, differences in skin color have contributed to unnecessary conflicts amongst ethnic groups for a long time. However, the situation started changing during the era of civil movements when awareness campaigns were carried out to educate people about their equality regardless of differences in skin color. The situation has not fully changed in the 21st Century, but efforts are still being made in the medical fields to create awareness about the equality of skin color regardless of distinguishable differences among the races.

Science has evidence that dark skins are most suitable in some parts of the world that experience hot weather as they are better for the protection of DNA against the scorching sun and ultraviolet rays. This understanding explains why Sub-Saharan Africa comprises dark-skinned populations. In contrast, even though dark-skinned people adapt well to hot climatic zones, there is no evidence that there is a difference in the concentration of melanin pigments per square centimeter among different races. Therefore, darkness in the skin does not imply richness in the melanin pigments, as many people have believed (Rosenberg & Rosenberg, 2012).

However, some notable differences are attributed to skin color such as the hair whereby dark-skinned people have darker hair as compared to their white-skinned counterparts who have multicolored hair. Various advantages are attributed to the differences in skin color. First, skin color differences help in the classification of human beings. Human beings are classified according to their notable physical differences. Therefore, skin color plays a major role in the classification of human beings, which is commonly referred to as a race. The notable skin color differences among people of different nationalities help in such classification. For instance, South Koreans have a different skin color from the Japanese even though they are Asians.

Second, in the contemporary world, people have theoretical beliefs that skin color contributes to certain behavioral and tendency characteristics. Therefore, government and security agencies use skin color characteristics to identify possible suspects for security reasons. Even though science objects to this notion, theoretical beliefs have helped security agencies to narrow down human classification based on the differences in skin color. Third, human beings choose locations where they are in a position to interact with others freely. Hence, they tend to prefer areas that have people with similar skin color characteristics. For instance, in Los Angeles in the United States, some suburban areas are attributed to Latinos and others to Blacks since they form the majority populations in those respective areas. Hence, differences in skin color contribute to the choosing of a habitat location for human beings.

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Additionally, the eye color multifactorial trait is notable in human beings. Certain scientific theories hold that every human being has unique eyes. The uniqueness in the human eye is subject to its color. Eye color is a polygenic trait that is not determined by environmental characteristics. The four most common eye colors in human beings include brown, blue, green, and hazel. However, some differences exist regarding color richness regarding darkness and lightness. Besides, the nature of color distribution patterns concerning rings, streaks, flecks, and specks in the eye produces notable differences. In the United States and other developed countries, people are registered according to the most notable differences in their bodies. Therefore, eye color is used to distinguish a person’s characteristics in a population. Hence, security agencies use eye color to track down suspects since the topographical characteristics of the eyelids are as distinguishable as fingerprints. The advantage of the human eye is that it cannot be interfered with due to its delicate nature and thus suspects are easily identifiable (Segal, 2012).

Fingerprints are a major multifactorial trait in human beings. Every human being has unique fingerprints hence the major reason they are used for registration in every part of the world. Human beings have fingertips that have folded skin to form loops, whorls, and arches. Every human being has an unequaled pattern that is identified by the number of ridges. The nature of fingerprints is a polygenic characteristic albeit everybody has unique fingerprint characteristics hence the condition is not altered by environmental conditions in which a person grows up. Fingerprints are the oldest form of distinguishable characteristics in human beings, and they have been used to identify the identity of human beings in the security and registration departments around the world (Yashon & Cummings, 2011).

Height is also a notable multifactorial trait in human beings. However, it is both a polygenic and environmental characteristic. A person can inherit height characteristics from the family tree. For instance, some families have tall members, while others are short or dwarfs. However, in some situations, a family with tall parents can produce a short child. In such a case, environmental factors are highly likely to affect one’s growth. The availability of food and diseases is the most common environmental condition that affects growth hence a person’s height. Human beings have notable height differences, and thus height is used as a distinguishable characteristic in human beings. In the United States, the correctional system uses height characteristics to distinguish convicts within the facilities.

Body weight is also a notable multifactorial trait in human beings. Just like height, body weight can be both polygenic and environmental. Hence, it is an essential tool for distinguishing human beings in a population. Moreover, body weight is used as a tool for studying health conditions whereby a change in body weight in a population over a long period depicts a change in health conditions in a particular environment.

Lastly, behavioral conditions and tendencies are common multifactorial traits in human beings. There is no scientific evidence to prove that skin color contributes to differences in behavioral conditions and tendencies among human beings. However, in the United States, some theories hold that people of particular races have specific behaviors and tendencies. The black population is associated with violence while the White population is linked with calmness. Some polygenic behaviors and tendencies are notable in the family trees. Besides, environmental conditions play a major role in determining the nature of behavioral tendencies in human beings. For instance, a child is highly likely to acquire behaviors of the people in the surrounding. However, adults are distinguishable by behavioral characteristics that every individual possesses.


In conclusion, multicultural traits in human beings are essential for distinguishing individual characteristics in a population. In the contemporary world, the population of human beings has grown immensely hence essential for government registration and security agencies to utilize multifactorial traits to distinguish individuals within the population. The most common multifactorial traits are eye color, fingerprints, height, body weight, behavioral conditions, and tendencies.


Cummings, M. (2011). Human Heredity: Principles and issues. New York, NY: Cengage.

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Rosenberg, L., & Rosenberg, D. (2012). Human Genes and Genomes: Science, Health, Society. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.

Segal, N. (2012). Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Yashon, R., & Cummings, M. (2011). Human Genetics and Society. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

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