Why Do People Take DNA Tests?

A frequent refrain in the genetic genealogy community is “Why do people take DNA tests if they’re not interested in genealogy?”  There are lots of reasons to do a DNA test, from hardcore  genealogy to health reports to ethnicity estimates to ‘Why the heck not?

How do those different demographics react to and interact with their results?  That’s a great question!  All serious genetic genealogists have reached out to intriguing matches who never respond—to our frustration—but do we understand how those matches perceive their results and our outreach?  I don’t think we do.

Fortunately for us, the University of British Columbia in Canada is undertaking a research study on exactly that.  From the study’s web site:

The UBC Genetic Connections study is looking for individuals who are considering purchasing or have already purchased but not yet seen the results of a genetic test kit. The study involves completing two anonymous surveys, one before and one after receiving your genetic test results. Our aim is to capture the numerous social and individual factors that go into the decision to pursue at-home genetic testing as well as the impact of receiving genetic test results.

If you are considering testing, have sent in your test kit but haven’t gotten the results back yet, or have already tested, please consider participating in the study.  And pass the link along to your friends, relatives, and local genealogy societies.  We will all benefit from understanding more about why people test.

More information about the study, and a link to the first survey, can be found here:


Updates to this post

10 Sep 2019 — Updated to clarify that the survey is open to those who have already tested, as well.  Many thanks to Jim Davis for seeking out that information.


5 thoughts on “Why Do People Take DNA Tests?”

  1. I was a little disappointed by the introduction on the survey site because as a late-in-life-discovered adoptee it sounds like it’s only open to those who have not yet taken a test or received results and I’d love to do the survey. So I emailed them and got this great reply!:

    “Thank you so much for your email and for your interest in our study! While our questionnaires intend to capture individuals’ motivations and responses throughout the testing process, we certainly would not want to exclude anyone who has already received their results. For this reason, we do include a question in the survey about the stage you are at in the process of genetic testing and include the option to indicate that you have already received results. Given this, I encourage you to participate in the study if you are interested. We value all the responses we receive and are extremely grateful for those who decide to participate!”

    1. ! Yes, received a reply from Dr. DeLongis and it’s a “go” for post-test result individuals, and there are follow-ups past the initial survey intended to capture post-test data. (I suggested an additional longer term follow up and I believe that will be the case).

      You can add this to my 1st comment if you like-
      I think it’s a great survey, with excellent questions & format.

      1. Thanks so much for checking on this! I’ll edit my post to let people know, and I’ll even take the survey myself!

  2. I took the survey today. I needed to answer some initial questions recalling my motivations for taking a DNA test in the beginning which was not hard. But most of the questions are not related to your motivations.

    1. I share Dennis’ comment. After two pages where I questioned the relevance, I closed out without completing the survey.

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