Real-life helping behaviours in North America: A genome-wide association approach

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In humans, prosocial behaviour is essential for social functioning. Twin studies suggest this distinct human trait to be partly hardwired. In the last decade research on the genetics of prosocial behaviour focused on neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, such as oxytocin, dopamine, and their respective pathways. Recent trends towards large scale medical studies targeting the genetic basis of complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia pave the way for new directions also in behavioural genetics. Based on data from 10,713 participants of the American Health and Retirement Study we estimated heritability of helping behaviour–its total variance explained by 1.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms–to be 11%. Both, fixed models and mixed linear models identified rs11697300, an intergene variant on chromosome 20, as a candidate variant moderating this particular helping behaviour. We assume that this so far undescribed area is worth further investigation in association with human prosocial behaviour.




Primes, G., & Fieder, M. (2018). Real-life helping behaviours in North America: A genome-wide association approach. PLoS ONE, 13(1).

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