Navigation Links
Does a Gene Make People Seem Kinder?
Date:11/15/2011

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that a variation in a single human gene affects how other people see you at first glance in terms of your compassion, kindness and trustworthiness.

The variation might directly influence your personality, especially in terms of empathy. Or it's possible that it's connected to something else that affects the way you act. On the other hand, the research is based on only a few subjects, so much more study is needed, experts say.

Still, the findings may "speak to the power of little genetic differences to predict tangible differences in the way we behave," said study author Aleksandr Kogan, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Toronto.

Over the past five to seven years, researchers have been exploring how genetics affect emotions, Kogan said. "What we're learning is that, to a certain extent, we have a genetic basis that supports a lot of the processes that make us nice."

In particular, researchers have focused on a hormone called oxytocin, which has been linked to emotions like love and trust and is found in a variety of animals. Higher levels of oxytocin have been linked to higher levels of trustworthiness, empathy and willingness to sacrifice, Kogan said.

In the new study, Kogan and colleagues focused on a gene linked to the brain's oxytocin receptor, which is a kind of catcher's glove that receives the hormone. They wanted to see if they could link variations in the gene to the way that people are perceived by others.

The researchers compiled 20-second, silent videos of people listening as their romantic partners told a story about a moment of suffering in the partner's life. Then they showed the videos to 116 subjects and asked them to gauge the compassion, kindness and trustworthiness of the people in the videos, Kogan said.

The researchers then tried to see if patterns in the genetic makeup of the people in the videos predicted how the subjects viewed them.

Those who were considered to be most trustworthy were similar genetically in terms of the single gene. The same was true for those who were deemed least trustworthy -- they were similar to one another, but in a different way.

People with the "kindness" gene showed more empathetic behaviors, like nodding their heads, smiling and making eye contact than people with the other type of gene.

The question now is: If these links aren't a coincidence, how are genes affecting how empathetic people appear to be to others? Could it affect their behavior? The way their faces look? Something else?

In the big picture, the research could lead to better understanding of why some people are kind and others aren't, Kogan said. It could even lead to insight into why some people are psychopaths.

Paul Zak, a brain researcher and founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, in California, said the research is interesting but not yet world-changing.

"Some people would say there is now a gene for being nice to other people. That's not true at all," he said. Many other genes matter, too, he said, as do more important factors like your current physical state and your personal history.

In other words, if you're a jerk or a saint, your genes shouldn't get all the credit -- or blame.

The study appears online in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about genes.

SOURCES: Aleksandr Kogan, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, psychology, University of Toronto, Canada; Paul Zak, Ph.D., chair and professor of economics, and founding director, Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, Calif.; Nov. 14, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Depressed people feel more gray than blue
2. Exercise Success for People Over 50: Reports of Improved Fitness, Circulation and Balance
3. Vaccine May Prevent TB in People With HIV
4. People with anxiety disorder less able to regulate response to negative emotions, study shows
5. Can mobile phones help people EatWell?
6. “Hearts and Minds” Education Program Launched: On Average, People with Mental illness Live 25 Years Less than Other Americans
7. Happy People More Likely to Try Something New
8. Board Certified Renal Specialist, Nina Kolbe, Publishes Second Edition of Kidney Health Gourmet: A Diet Guide and Kidney Friendly Recipes for People Not on Dialysis
9. Visual Cues that Improve Walking for People with Movement Disorders - Study Shows Small Change in Arrangement Can Make a Big Difference in Improvement Gained
10. Pelosi on Repealing Antitrust Exemption: Health Insurance Companies Will Now Be Playing on the Peoples Field
11. Gingrich Hosts The American Peoples Online Health Summit
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Does a Gene Make People Seem Kinder?
(Date:6/24/2017)... , ... June 24, 2017 , ... The weather is ... time outdoors. Home and business owners should be aware that the summer months provide ... In fact, mechanical locks and keys can be negatively affected from direct exposure to ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... The Rhode Island Quality ... Management Alerts and Dashboards, an innovative new service enabling healthcare providers to proactively ... Management Alerts and Dashboards provide near real-time data about patients admitted to and/or ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... , ... June 23, 2017 , ... By scoring 100% ... ninth consecutive four-star rating from premier online charity evaluator, Charity Navigator, validating ANRF's work ... 1% of all charities reviewed by Charity Navigator and earns ANRF a spot on ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... , ... June 24, 2017 , ... Studies show evidence ... reduce the risk of visual loss in these patients. , But how often do ... or smoking cessation to patients at risk of or with early symptoms of AMD? ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2017 , ... ... plastic surgeon practicing in Newburgh, New York, has recently begun offering three new ... to offering the best cutting-edge procedures and reducing downtime, Dr. Rubinstein is excited ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/1/2017)... June 1, 2017 Nutriceutical Holdings (NH), parent ... Solutions (VRS), and KD Pharma Group have decided to ... by KD Pharma Group. KD Pharma Group will become ... to acquire the entire company. "We believe ... are committed to growing the NH companies by providing ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... 26, 2017  Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ... CEO, will represent the Company in a fireside chat at ... Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 10:40 a.m. PT / 1:40 ... in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. ... will be available on the Company,s website at http://www.endo.com/investors/overview ...
(Date:5/22/2017)...  As the specialty pharmacy industry and the ... the revolutionary shift from volume-based to value-based care, ... patient outcomes and shaping the future of the ... from clinical trials and toward data that reveals ... therapy utilization in precise patient populations. Therigy ® ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: