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Study Finds Genes Make Some People Nicer Than Others

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IRVINE (CBS) — Finding it hard to be nice on some days? Maybe its just not in your genes.

A new study conducted by the University at Buffalo and UC Irvine has found a connection between people who are kind and receptor genes for two hormones believed to be associated with niceness.

Researchers say the genes may affect pro-social behavior.

The study looked at the behavior of subjects who have versions of receptor genes for two hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, that have been previously linked with niceness.

The two hormones are known to make people nicer, at least in close relationships, according to a news release from the University at Buffalo. Oxytocin promotes maternal behavior and is known as the “love drug” and the “cuddle chemical,” the study’s principal author, Michel Poulin, said.

“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 in a news release about the study. “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.”

These “nice” genes help people overcome feelings of the world being threatening and help others in spite of those fears.

The study, “The Neurogenics of Niceness,” will be published in this month’s Psychological Science journal.

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