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:2/10/2016)... Calif. (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... Water Brand. There were three leading bottled water brand owners that topped the list ... that enhance connectivity and optimize conversion. The premier brand was Tibet 5100, a top ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... ... Dr. Jessica Barron, of Barron Family Dental in Thornton, Colorado , ... in the North Metro Denver area. The new dental practice focuses on comfort where ... in the most relaxing environment. , While some dental visits can create anxiety for ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Intalere’s ... together more than 200 of the country’s top healthcare executives to share insights ... true benefit of the Forum is the provider-centric perspective, experience, expertise and strategy ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Gout is like no other joint ... is often severe, with intense swelling and redness. It is triggered by the crystallization ... older adults are the most susceptible, according to the February 2016 issue of Harvard ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... Armune ... Apifiny® across their network of laboratory service centers across the country. Launched in ... aid clinicians in the detection of prostate cancer. Apifiny order volume exceeded 3,000 tests ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... DIEGO , Feb. 10, 2016 ALSP, Inc. ... , MD as Consultant for Medical Affairs in preparation for ... Michael Pierschbacher , PhD, CEO, stated, "We are pleased ... We look forward to working with an individual of such ... We look forward to drawing deeply on his broad experience ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016 Intouch Solutions, a ... identified an industry-wide trend regarding the evolution of ... organizations to efficiently deliver compelling sales presentations via ... and another in 2015, Intouch uncovered that while ... devices and DSAs, many are not using them ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... HALLANDALE, Fla. , Feb. 9, 2016  Until ... sagging were surgery or liposuction. Thankfully, the FDA approved ... freezing them to death. Coolsculpting was originally approved in ... to the thighs and now the chin. With this ... Wellness Center can use a smaller applicator, the CoolMini, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: