[Paleopsych] BH: (Rushton) Social Responsibility in the Genes

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Social Responsibility in the Genes

Twin study suggests that DNA accounts for more than 40% of difference in
such behaviors as charitable giving

    Betterhumans Staff
    1/6/2005 1:10 PM

    Genes may account for more than 40% of such charitable behavior as the
    massive outpouring of donations following the recent South Asian

    A study comparing the social responsibility of identical and
    non-identical twins showed that genes account for 42% of individual
    differences in attitudes while common environment accounts for 23% and
    other factors account for the remainder.

    Conducted by Canadian researcher [8]J. Philippe Rushton of the
    [9]University of Western Ontario, the study also found that genes have
    a stronger influence on males than females (50% to 40%) while home
    upbringing has a stronger influence on females (40% to 0%), suggesting
    that parents may more closely watch the behavior of daughters than of

    The study involved 322 pairs of twins. Of these, 174 were identical
    pairs and 148 were non-identical. If traits are more similar among
    identical pairs, it suggests a stronger genetic contribution because
    they share all their genes while non-identical twins share only half.

    Subjects answered 22 questions such as, "I am a person people can
    count on" and, "Cheating on income tax is as bad as stealing" using a
    scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Answers are
    known to predict such behavior as voting and volunteering. Answers
    were compared to determine patterns of relationships amongst the

    Most previous studies on the genetics of social behavior have looked
    at antisocial behavior. The new study reinforces earlier work by
    Rushton and colleagues showing that genes contribute to about half the
    variance of self-reported altruism, empathy, nurturance and

    The research is reported in the [10]Proceedings of the Royal Society:
    Biological Sciences ([11]read abstract).


    8. http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushton_bio.htm
    9. http://www.uwo.ca/
   10. http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/proc_bio_homepage.shtml
   11. http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/proc_bio_content/abstracts/rushton.html

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