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Norton Medical and Scientific Research & Biotechnology: New Study: Niceness Depends on Genes

By Norton Med Subscribe to RSS | May 3rd 2012 | Views:

A new study from research psychologists reveals that kindness and generosity are apparently because of people's genes.

Michel Poulin, an assistant professor of psychology at University of Buffalo is the main author of the study entitled «The Neurogenics of Niceness» published in Psychological Science, a journal of Norton Medical and Scientific Research & Biotechnology, this month.

E. Alison Holman from University of California and Anneke Buffone of University of Buffalo co-authored the study that examined the behavior of subjects to find if niceness or «feelings of charity and social responsibility» corresponded with having a gene that produces a specific type of receptor for vasopressin and oxytocin.

Laboratory studies and relationship research in the past have showed evidence linking 'niceness' to hormones vasopressin and oxytocin. These two have been found out to instigate feelings of generosity and love when they flood the brain and bind to neurons. (Hormones work by combining to our cells via different kinds of receptors. There are a number of genes that control how vasopressin and oxytocin receptors function.)

They concluded that the genes actually work together with an individual's life experiences and upbringing in determining how sociable he becomes. Poulin said that the genes, combined with personal perceptions of someone can predict generosity.

Though Poulin is quick to emphasize that they are not claiming to have discovered a niceness gene per se. «But we have found a gene that makes a contribution. What I find so interesting is the fact that it only makes a contribution in the presence of certain feelings people have about the world around them.»

According to Norton Medical and Scientific Research & Biotechnology, the study is an attempt to apply former conclusions to social behaviors on a bigger scale in order to determine if the chemicals really nudge an individual into pro-social behavior (e.g. giving blood, reporting crime, giving to charity or paying taxes).

Subjects participated in an Internet survey with questions regarding their charitable activities, their civic duty and their feelings toward the world (i.e. whether they deem people to be more good than bad). Out of those participants, 711 have given saliva sample for DNA analysis that showed what kind of receptors they have of the vasopressin and oxytocin.

From the participating subjects, 51.5% who have different types of receptors for the 2 genes basically had no connection between the subject's behavior and his perceived threat from others. This means that the niceness genes enable someone to overcome his own opinion of the world being an unsafe place and helped others despite his prejudice.

«The fact that the genes predicted behavior only in combination with people's experiences and feelings about the world isn't surprising because most connections between DNA and social behavior are complex,» said Poulin.

This is not the first time a study was made regarding a link between genetics and human behavior. In 2011, researchers from University of Edinburgh have published their study in the Biology Letters journal that shows traits of selflessness appear to be genetic. They included 1,000 pairs of twins in their study, both fraternal and identical.

Norton Med - About Author:
Norton Medical and Scientific Research & Biotechnology is dedicated to publishing the latest news, mainly on, medical research and biotechnology advancements. Norton Medical and Scientific Research & Biotechnology's content comes from highly diverse sources covering clinical procedures, medical specialties and more.

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