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Genetics Affects "Empathy Quotient"

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-03-12 16:11:09

Genes have a role in empathy, study says []

It helps us to make close connections with people, and influences how we behave in a range of situations, from the workplace to a party. Now scientists say empathy is not just something we develop through our upbringing and life experiences - it is also partly inherited.

A study of 46,000 people found evidence for the first time that genes have a role in how empathetic we are. And it also found that women are generally more empathetic than men.

[...] Participants in the study had their "empathy quotient" (EQ) measured with a questionnaire, and gave saliva samples for DNA testing. Scientists then looked for differences in their genes that could explain why some of us are more empathetic than others. They found that at least 10% of the differences in how empathetic people are is down to genetics.

Varun Warrier, from the University of Cambridge who led the study, said: "This is an important step towards understanding the role that genetics plays in empathy. But since only a tenth of the variation in the degree of empathy between individuals is down to genetics, it is equally important to understand the non-genetic factors."

The genomic data came from 46,861 23andMe [] users.

Genome-wide analyses of self-reported empathy: correlations with autism, schizophrenia, and anorexia nervosa [] (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41398-017-0082-6) (DX [])

Original Submission