New Study Shows That ‘Being Nice’ May be a Product of Your Genes

By Emily Murray

Ever wonder what makes some people cheery, friendly and helpful day in and day out?

Most of us assume it’s because of their current environment, past experiences and the way they were raised as children. While these things do factor in, a new study suggests that “niceness” can largely be passed down genetically and a saliva sample can help identify if you are likely to be “nice.”

The study was recently published in the April issue of Psychological Science and was based in part on research that has been compiled in the past. Essentially we already know the hormone oxytocin is responsible for a variety of emotional characteristics. It is present in the brain when a mother nurses her newborn and when a women is intimate with her partner. It is believed to work in a way that is intended to cause an intense bond. However, what many may not realize is that this ‘love hormone’ has also been tied to acts of charitable giving and being kind to others. When you feel that you are bonding with someone, it inherently makes you act ‘nice.’

Based on this notion of the charitable characteristics of oxytocin, researchers were able to test the theory further while examining the levels of oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. In order to gather the information necessary, researchers has 711 subjects partake in an online survey which provoked thought and asked questions about their attitude toward the worl, charitable activities, people in general and civic duty. Participants then provided saliva samples so that researchers could identify what type of receptor genes were present in their bodies.

As a result, researchers concluded that certain gene, along with a person’s general outlook, can actually make them more apt to be kind in their interactions with others. This was beleived to be in part because these genes may actually help people calm their fears more easily which allows them to want to help another without being nervous about what negative outcome may arise.