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abstract

People are increasingly accessing personal DNA-based information about themselves both in the clinical context and via direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies.  Through these clinical and commercial routes, more and more people are learning genetic information about their ancestry, physical disease risks (e.g. cancer, heart disease), and mental health.  This raises important questions about the value or utility (ratio of benefits to harms) of personal genomic information for disease prediction, prevention and early detection.  The potential benefits and harms of personal genomics include psychological and behavioural outcomes, e.g. motivation to engage in risk-reducing behaviours on the one hand, versus potential fatalism or false reassurance on the other.  In this talk I will discuss some of our applied psychological research in which we’ve explored the psychological and behavioral outcomes of giving people personal genetic and genomic information about themselves.  I will provide an overview of work conducted by our group and by others over the past two decades that has explored the impact first of genetic testing for single gene variants, through to whole genome sequencing in more recent years; discuss what we have learnt; and discuss future directions for the emerging field of psychology applied to genomics.