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Niceness in your genes?

Born to be mild? ‘Niceness gene’ makes some people kinder – and those who lack it are tight-fisted, selfish and cruel

Gene dictates function of ‘cuddle hormone’

Overrules ‘learned’ attitudes about the world

People with gene more likely to help others


12 April 2012

Angel or devil? Scientists think that a gene can ‘dictate’ whether people are nice or prone to antisocial behaviour

Being kind to others is something we learn at our mothers’ knees – or so generations have thought.

But sadly for well-meaning parents and teachers, it seems some people are simply born ‘nice’ – and some nasty.

The gene seems to ‘overrule’ learned attitudes such as the idea that the world is a cruel and threatening place.

People with the gene gave more to charity, helped others, and reported crimes – even if they DID believe the world is cruel.

Psychologists at the university of Buffalo found that people who think that the world is a ‘threatening’ place behave positively if they have certain genes that control the function of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors.

Oxytocin is known as the ‘cuddle’ hormone, and is used to bond couples together and even to bond mothers with their children.

‘We aren’t saying we’ve found the niceness gene,’ says Michael Poulin of PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo. ‘But it makes a contribution.

‘The study found that these genes combined with people’s perceptions of the world as a more or less threatening place to predict generosity,’ Poulin says. ‘Specifically, study participants who found the world threatening were less likely to help others — unless they had versions of the receptor genes that are generally associated with niceness,’

So if one of your neighbors seems really generous, caring, civic-minded kind of person, while another seems more selfish, tight-fisted and not as interested in pitching in, their DNA may help explain why one of them is nicer than the other,’ he says.

Oxytocin promotes maternal behavior, for example, and in the lab, subjects exposed to the hormone demonstrate greater sociability.

Poulin says this study was an attempt to apply previous findings to social behaviors on a larger scale; to learn if these chemicals provoke in us other forms of pro-social behavior: urge to give to charity, for instance, or to more readily participate in such civic endeavors as paying taxes, reporting crime, giving blood or sitting on juries.

Subjects were surveyed as to their attitudes toward civic duty, other people and the world in general, and about their charitable activities.

Of those surveyed, 711 subjects provided a sample of saliva for DNA analysis, which showed what form they had of the oxytocin and vasopressin receptors.

‘This is not the niceness gene,’ says Poulin ‘But we have found a gene that makes a contribution.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2128067/Born-bad-Niceness-gene-makes-people-kinder–lack-tight-fisted-selfish-cruel.html#ixzz1spKItF9w


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