Is There a Kindness Gene?
A new study poses the possiblity that altruism may run in the family. As HealthDay put it in their headline for a story on the research, "Some Folks Just Can't Help Being Nice, Study Suggests."
Scientists at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Irvine found that certain versions of receptor genes for two hormones associated with caring traits -- oxytocin and vasopressin – appear to predict generosity. Principal author Micheal Poulin, an assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo, said in a university news release that "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."
Poulin noted that the "niceness" versions of the receptor genes "allow you to overcome feelings of the world being threatening and help other people in spite of those fears."
The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Psychological Science.