“IS EMPATHY GENETIC?”*
If you’re not empathetic, don’t feel too badly, says the London Daily Telegraph; it could be genetic. Empathy is thought to be mediated in part by oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone” in the brain. Numerous studies have shown that people with elevated oxytocin levels are more generous and trusting.
In a new study, subjects were shown a series of photos of facial expressions and then asked to characterize the emotions they saw” a classic “empathy test.” The scientists found that subjects with a gene that made them more receptive to oxytocin were significantly more accurate in their assessments of other people’s feelings. The results, says Oregon State University neuropsychologist Sarina Rodrigues, suggest that “some of us have a natural capacity to be more empathic than others and that some people are more closed-off and detached.”
From The Week, “Is Empathy Genetic?” December 4, 2009
Source: London Daily Telegraph, “Empathy ‘can be inherited,'” November 17, 2009