The niceness gene

For generations, being kind to others is something we assumed we learned from our parents.

Recent studies have questioned whether this is indeed the case and it now seems that in part at least, the reason why some people are generous and kind is because they may have a genetic predisposition to being kind.

A recent study carried out by the University of California, looked at the behaviour of subjects who have versions of receptor genes for two hormones that are associated with niceness. Previous laboratory studies have linked the hormones Oxytocin and Vasopressin to the way we treat one another.

These hormones are known to make us nicer people promoting maternal behaviour. In the lab, the participants who were exposed to the hormone demonstrated greater sociability. The study suggests that these hormones make a definite contribution.

I also believe other things act as a contribution. Although we have a predisposition through our genes, an equally valid question is the extent to which nurture as well as nature dictates our behaviour and social interactions.

13 Feb, 2014

4 thoughts on “The niceness gene

  1. I agree with you. I do question it though. They blame genetics and other things on people who have extremely bad behavior, like the serial killers. If they have a gene that causes their behavior why not have a gene that causes niceness.

    My grandparents on both sides of my family were very generous and kind people and my parents were the same way. I think I’m nice most of the time and if I’m mean in anyway I feel terrible guilt over it.

    Punishing my children caused me guilt, but I knew if I didn’t discipline them it would have hurt them in the end.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I have always believed behaviour is linked to a child’s upbringing.

      In terms of discipline, you’re right all parents should really discipline their children. It’s the only way they learn about boundaries and respect. I also believe that if what children see is played out by the parents, then those children in all probability will begin to act out their parents’ behaviour too.

      Most of the time it’s what we see. On the other hand if parents do have a pre-disposition brought about by their parents behaviour and manage to keep it under wraps, it may be that the buck stops with the parent.

      From the research done, it would make sense that if one parent has the nice gene, then it could be passed on, but that not every child will get and that makes sense.

  2. This is an interesting post and the debate between nature and nurture even more so.

    While it seems that we may or may not be pre-disposed to ‘being nice,’ there is no reason why we cannot all be nice by taking responsibility for our interactions. After all, I believe that we reap what we sow.

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