`Indians think blood transfusion could alter their personality`

Updated: Jun 19, 2013, 14:30 PM IST

Washington: Indian recipients prefer to get an organ transplant or blood transfusion from a donor whose personality or behaviour matches theirs, a new study has found.

Some people in India and the US, who undergo transplants, believe that their personality or behaviour may change to become more like that of the blood or organ donor, researchers from the University of Michigan, said.

They feel so "creeped out" that they would decline an organ or blood that came from a murderer or thief, the study conducted on participants from India and US found.

People think that behaviours and personalities are partly due to something hidden deep inside their blood or bodily organs, Meredith Meyer, the study`s lead author, said.

Surprisingly, researchers found that results from blood transfusions were just as strong as from heart transplants.

"Since blood transfusions are so common and relatively straightforward, we had expected people might think that they have very little effect," Meyer said.

Participants viewed a list of possible human donors and judged whether they wanted someone who shared similar traits.

Possible donors also included two animals: a pig or a chimpanzee. For human donors described as having the same gender, the characteristics could be positive (eg high IQ, talented artist, kind person or philanthropist) or negative (eg low IQ, thief, gambler or murderer).

Respondents ranked how much they liked the idea of each being a donor, as well as assessed their beliefs that the transplant would cause the recipient`s personality or behaviour to become similar to the donor`s.

The findings indicate it was more important for people to have a donor similar to themselves than the positive or negative qualities that individual possesses. Transplants from animals were judged to be particularly distasteful.

"People dislike the prospect of any change in their essence - positive or negative and so any salient difference between the donor and recipient leads to increased resistance to the transplant (despite the fact) there is no scientific model to account for why transplants might lead to transference of features," Meyer said.

The study compared transplant beliefs, heart, pacemaker and skin grafts, with participants from both the US and India, where some of its subcultures express strong contamination beliefs. Researchers thought this might influence Indians` beliefs about transplants.

Respondents from both countries did not like transplants from animals or donors with negative traits, but differed in how they viewed donor-to-recipient transfers. Indians felt stronger than Americans that transplants would affect their behaviour.

The findings appear in the journal Cognitive Science.