Navigation Links
Is a stranger trustworthy? You'll know in 20 seconds

There's definitely something to be said for first impressions. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests it can take just 20 seconds to detect whether a stranger is genetically inclined to being trustworthy, kind or compassionate.

The findings reinforce that healthy humans are wired to recognize strangers who may help them out in a tough situation. They also pave the way for genetic therapies for people who are not innately sympathetic, researchers said.

"It's remarkable that complete strangers could pick up on who's trustworthy, kind or compassionate in 20 seconds when all they saw was a person sitting in a chair listening to someone talk," said Aleksandr Kogan, lead author of the study and now a postdoctoral student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. He conducted the study while at UC Berkeley.

Two dozen couples participated in the UC Berkeley study, and each provided DNA samples. Researchers then documented the couples as they talked about times when they had suffered. Video was recorded only of the partners as they took turns listening.

A separate group of observers who did not know the couples were shown 20-second video clips of the listeners and asked to rate which seemed most trustworthy, kind and compassionate, based on their facial expressions and body language.

The listeners who got the highest ratings for empathy, it turned out, possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene known as the GG genotype.

"People can't see genes, so there has to be something going on that is signaling these genetic differences to the strangers," Kogan said. "What we found is that the people who had two copies of the G version displayed more trustworthy behaviors more head nods, more eye contact, more smiling, more open body posture. And it was these behaviors that signaled kindness to the strangers."

The study, which builds on previous UC Berkeley research on the human genetic predisposition to empathy, is published in the Nov. 14 online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An earlier UC Berkeley study looked at three combinations of gene variations of the oxytocin receptors AA, AG and GG.

It found that the people who were most empathetic in that they were able to accurately interpret others' emotions had two copies of the "G allele." In contrast, members of the AA and AG allele groups were found to be less capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others and more likely to get stressed out in difficult situations.

Widely known as the "cuddle" or "love" hormone, oxytocin is secreted into the bloodstream and the brain, where it promotes social interaction, bonding and romantic love, among other functions.

Kogan pointed out that having the AA or AG instead of the GG genotype does not mark a person as unsympathetic.

"What ultimately makes us kind and cooperative is a mixture of numerous genetic and non-genetic factors. No one gene is doing the trick. Instead, each of these many forces is a thread pulling a person in one direction or another, and the oxytocin receptor gene is one of these threads," Kogan said.


Contact: Yasmin Anwar
University of California - Berkeley

Related biology news :

1. Curtain twitching skylarks keep track of strangers through their songs
2. Plants prefer their kin, but crowd out competition when sharing a pot with strangers
3. Do plants perform best with family or strangers? Researchers consider social interactions
4. 100-meter sprint world record could go as low as 9.48 seconds
5. Out of mind in a matter of seconds
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/6/2017)... RAM Group , Singaporean based ... in biometric authentication based on a novel  ... to perform biometric authentication. These new sensors are based on ... Ram Group and its partners. This sensor will have ... and security. Ram Group is a next generation ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... -- NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or ... 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April 13, 2017 ... ... Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at  under ... . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced the ... to their offering. ... eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of 30.37% during ... Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis ... and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... They call it the “hairy ball.” It’s an ... a system of linkages and connections so complex and dense that “it looks ... at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of the university’s bioinformatics and computational ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Irvine, ca (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 ... ... for the Surgical Wound Market with the addition of its newest module, US ... the $1.2B market for thrombin hemostats, absorbable hemostats, fibrin sealants, synthetic sealants and ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... its endogenous context, enabling overexpression experiments and avoiding the use of exogenous expression ... guides is transformative for performing systematic gain-of-function studies. , This complement to ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... a leading provider of patient support solutions, has announced the ... which will launch this week. The VMS CNEs will address ... enhance the patient care experience by delivering peer-to-peer education programs ... to help women who have been diagnosed and are being ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: