blog by S.J. Velasquez • April 09, 2012 @ 9:01am
You learned “please” and “thank you” at an early age, but kindness isn’t necessarily a learned characteristic, research shows.
A recent UB study, “the Neurogenics of Niceness,” published in this month’s Psychological Science, points out that people are programmed at birth to be nicer than others. Research leader Michel Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at UB, said that levels of hormones oxytocin and vasopressin in the body influence how we treat each other. Oxytocin is said to promote more maternal behaviors, a UB news release explains.
“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 said. “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.”
In total, 711 participants were surveyed, and samples of their DNA were collected through saliva to determine levels of oxytocin and vasopressin. Poulin said that genetics isn’t the only factor in determining how social, charitable and pleasant a person may be, but hormones sure do play a role in a person’s friendly disposition.
Photo courtesy of Flickr / fred_v.