XAT 2015 Question 16


Analyse the following passage and provide appropriate answers for questions that follow.

Certain variants of key behavioural genes, “risk allele” make people more vulnerable to certain mood, psychiatric, or personality disorders. An allele is any of the variants of a gene that takes more than one form. A risk allele, then, is simply a gene variant that increases your likelihood of developing a problem.

Researchers have identified a dozen - odd gene variants that can increase a person’s susceptibility to depression, anxiety and antisocial, sociopathic, or violent behaviours, and other problems - if, and only if, the person carrying the variant suffers a traumatic or stressful childhood or faces particularly trying experiences later in life. This hypothesis, often called the “stress diathesis” or “genetic vulnerability” model, has come to saturate psychiatry and behavioural science.

Recently, however, an alternate hypothesis has emerged from this one and is turning it inside out. This new model suggests that it’s a mistake to understand these “risk” genes only as liabilities. According to this new thinking, these “bad genes” can create dysfunctions in unfavourable contexts - but they can also enhance function in favourable contexts. The genetic sensitivities to negative experience that the vulnerability hypothesis has identified, it follows, are just the downside of a bigger phenomenon: a heightened genetic sensitivity to all experience.

This hypothesis has been anticipated by Swedish folk wisdom which has long spoken of “dandelion” children. These dandelion children - equivalent to our “normal” or “healthy” children, with “resilient” genes - do pretty well almost anywhere, whether raised in the equivalent of a sidewalk crack or well - tended garden. There are also “orchid” children, who will wilt if ignored or maltreated but bloom spectacularly with greenhouse care. According to this orchid hypothesis, risk becomes possibility; vulnerability becomes plasticity and responsiveness. Gene variants generally considered misfortunes can instead now be understood as highly leveraged evolutionary bets, with both high risks and high potential rewards.

In this view, having both dandelion and orchid kids greatly raises a family’s (and a species’) chance of succeeding, over time and in any given environment. The behavioural diversity provided by these two different types of temperament also supplies precisely what a smart, strong species needs if it is to spread across and dominate a changing world. The many dandelions in a population provide an underlying stability. The less - numerous orchids, meanwhile, may falter in some environments but can excel in those that suit them. And even when they lead troubled early lives, some of the resulting heightened responses to adversity that can be problematic in everyday life - increased novelty - seeking, restlessness of attention, elevated risk - taking, or aggression - can prove advantageous in certain challenging situations: wars, social strife of many kinds, and migrations to new environments. Together, the steady dandelions and the mercurial orchids offer an adaptive flexibility that neither can provide alone. Together, they open a path to otherwise unreachable individual and collective achievements.

Question 16

The passage suggests ‘orchids’:


The passage says that "orchid" kids can thrive under certain conditions. The author says that risk becomes possibility and vulnerability becomes plasticity and responsiveness.

The author did not mention whether the orchids were insufficient in number. Hence, option A is rejected.

Option B talks about literal orchids which are not mentioned. Hence, it is also rejected.

Option C is rejected as the author says that both orchids and dandelions both have different advantages and risks. The orchids being weaker than dandelions is not mentioned.

Option D is the answer to this question as it follows the above-mentioned points.

Option E is rejected as it says that orchids are "always" too delicate to survive, making it an extreme point.

Hence, the answer is option D.

Create a FREE account and get:

  • All Quant Formulas and shortcuts PDF
  • 40+ previous papers with solutions PDF
  • Top 500 MBA exam Solved Questions for Free


    Register with


    Boost your Prep!

    Download App