Are mean people born that way?
April 18th, 2012
09:27 AM ET

Are mean people born that way?

Let's face it - everyone isn't nice. In fact, being nice is more difficult for some people than others. But is it possible that "niceness" is predetermined by our genes?

A new study in the journal Psychological Science suggests this: If you think the world is full of threatening people, you're not going feel compelled to be generous by doing things like volunteering and donating to charity. But if you have certain gene variants, you're more likely to be nice anyway.

Now hold on a minute - this doesn't give your mean neighbor an excuse to blame his DNA for not letting kids on the block play on his lawn.

It's a little more complicated than that.

The research: A few questions and some spit 

Researchers offered an online survey to participants asking questions like:

–do people have a duty to pay taxes?

–are people basically good or bad?

–do you engage in charitable activities?

Then some participants sent in samples of their saliva so researchers could check out their DNA. A total of 348 U.S. residents were included in the final analysis.

Researchers analyzed the spit samples. They looked at the particular variants of receptor genes these people had for the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.

In case you're wondering, oxytocin and vasopressin are very similar structurally, and seem to have some similar social effects. For example, they're both associated with pair bonding - aka bringing closer together two spouses or a mom and her child.

In fact, that's why oxytocin has been called "the cuddle hormone."

But while the hormones have similar effects on the brain, they differ in the rest of the body. Oxytocin can induce labor. Vasopressin increases when you're thirsty and prevents the formation of urine.

As the authors of the new study expected, people who see the world as a threatening place tended to not engage in charitable activities - except if they had particular variants of the receptor genes that the researchers were looking for.

It turns out that if the receptors are especially sensitive to oxytocin and vasopressin, even people who fear others in society will do nice things, said Michael Poulin, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo and study co-author.

"We’ve found that these genes also predict people’s willingness to be nice on behalf of other people or aggressive on behalf of other people," Poulin said. In other words, such biological factors may influence your willingness to defend someone else.

That is consistent with other research, which found that rat mothers are more willing to be aggressive on behalf of pups when they received oxytocin.

Previous research has also shown that these hormones make people more socially active.

Blame the DNA?

Keep in mind that this study only shows associations between genes, hormones and behavior, and doesn't prove direct causal links.

It's not a "blame your DNA" situation, Poulin said.

"While we found some interesting interactions with genes and perceptions of the world, I would resist saying that we found genes that control behavior," he cautioned.

The next step for this area of study is to look at how sensitive people are to different kinds of threats.

A few questions that might be posed by future researchers:

–Is it important for people to believe they're helping good people?

–Is there something in a person's background or upbringing that influences how threatening they believe the world is?

Poulin and colleagues will also look at what other behaviors these genes might influence.

So it's probably a little too early for mean people to start using their DNA as a convenient excuse for their bad behavior. But maybe someday...

soundoff (795 Responses)
  1. FmrfEncox

    generic cialis 10 mg price cheap https://cialisee.com/ cialis vs viagra canadian pharmacy

    May 15, 2021 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. combigan

    combigan bottle sizecombigan buy generic brimonidine

    May 16, 2021 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. LbsoZisse

    cialis without prescription http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis paypal accepted australia

    May 16, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. RebfZisse

    cialis forsale https://rcialisgl.com/ – generic cialis mexico cialis in melbourne

    May 16, 2021 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. LebnEncox

    Lamictal Theo-24 Cr cheap canadian drugs

    May 16, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. avana

    avana 50 mg avana 50 mg

    May 16, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. BbshMile

    real viagra for sale https://loxviagra.com/ viagra dosage 150 mg

    May 17, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. LbsoZisse

    cialis with dapoxetine https://ucialisdas.com/ – daily cialis reviews cialis with dapoxetine uk

    May 18, 2021 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. JebgEncox

    Female Viagra http://pharmacylo.com/ pharmacy com

    May 18, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JebgEncox

    online pharmacy pain medicine http://pharmacylo.com/ best canadian online pharmacies

    May 18, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. GtnbCrulk

    viagra side effects blood pressure http://jokviagra.com/ viagra lyrics

    May 19, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LebnEncox

    online pharmacy ed cross border pharmacy canada cialis pharmacy online

    May 19, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. GtnbCrulk

    where to buy female viagra https://jokviagra.com/ – generic viagra online for sale buy viagra online canadian

    May 19, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. BbshMile

    buy viagra online canadian http://loxviagra.com/ – cheap viagra from india female viagra pill

    May 19, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. cyclomune

    cyclosporine for humans buy cyclosporine online

    May 20, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. chloroquineorigin

    https://chloroquineorigin.com/ aralen resochin hydroxychloroquine resochin

    May 20, 2021 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Urban Nido

    183053 252440so considerably excellent info on here, : D. 764966

    May 20, 2021 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RebfZisse

    cialis vs viagra canadian pharmacy http://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis without a prescription generic cialis

    May 20, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. combigan

    buy combigan brimonidine dosage

    May 21, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. LbsoZisse

    best ed cialis pills http://ucialisdas.com/ oryginal cialis

    May 22, 2021 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RebfZisse

    cialis usa pharmacy https://rcialisgl.com/ – buy cialis overnight delivery cialis buy

    May 22, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. LebnEncox

    men's health http://xlnpharmacy.com/ best pharmacy

    May 22, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Tritreviewifind

    generic tadalafil from uk tadalafil generic cost tadalafil generic tadalafil cost walmart https://cttadalafil.com/ – tadalafil dosage

    May 23, 2021 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. combigan

    brimonidine generic combigan side effects

    May 23, 2021 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Unitmerienepeft

    prescription tadalafil online https://cttadalafil.com/ – what is tadalafil buy tadalafil cialis without a prescription https://tadagatadalafil.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. JebgEncox

    mens ed pills international pharmacy Lotensin

    May 23, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Soosteemocush

    https://cttadalafil.com/ generic tadalafil from uk https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ – where to buy generic cialis online safely cheap cialis pills for sale

    May 23, 2021 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil price walmart https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – buy tadalafil generic tadalafil from uk tadalafil blood pressure tadalafil goodrx

    May 23, 2021 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Soosteemocush

    https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ tadalafil online https://cttadalafil.com/ – cheapest tadalafil cost tadalafil cialis

    May 23, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Tritreviewifind

    where to buy cialis without prescription tadalafil cost in canada tadalafil cost walmart https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 23, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. LbsoZisse

    is cialis as effective as viagra https://ucialisdas.com/ cialis deliver next day

    May 24, 2021 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil goodrx where to buy generic cialis online safely tadalafil generic tadalafil liquid https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 03:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. JebgEncox

    canadian pharmacy online ship to usa http://pharmacylo.com/ shoppers drug mart pharmacy

    May 24, 2021 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. AnooEncox

    tomo viagra todo dia https://llviagra.com/ how does viagra effect high blood pressure

    May 24, 2021 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. cyclosporine

    cyclosporine cost cyclosporine for humans

    May 24, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. AnooEncox

    viagra cialis erfahrungen http://llviagra.com/ viagra szybka wysyЕ‚ka

    May 24, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. brimonidine

    combigan brimonidine dosage

    May 24, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Soosteemocush

    where to buy tadalafil on line https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ generic cialis tadalafil tadalafil generic where to buy where to buy tadalafil on line

    May 24, 2021 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. tausAffessy

    where to order tadalafil tablets tadalafil dosage cheap cialis pills for sale generic cialis tadalafil https://tadagatadalafil.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. brimonidine

    brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic brimonidine use

    May 25, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. LebnEncox

    online pharmacy school https://xlnpharmacy.com/ Methocarbamol

    May 25, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Tritreviewifind

    where to buy cialis without prescription https://tadagatadalafil.com/ – tadalafil without a doctor prescription cialis tadalafil generic cialis online fast shipping buy cialis

    May 25, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Tembepteriope

    generic cialis tadalafil tadalafil generic tadalafil online tadalafil cost walmart https://cttadalafil.com/ – prescription tadalafil online

    May 25, 2021 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. chloroquineorigin

    cloroquine protein nivaquine hydroxychloroquine bnf buy chloroquine online canada https://chloroquineorigin.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Unitmerienepeft

    side effects of tadalafil tadalafil cost in canada generic cialis online fast shipping https://tadalafilww.com/

    May 25, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. avanafil

    avana tabs buy avana canada

    May 25, 2021 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. CrulkAsd

    arghentina cialis https://cialisjla.com/ – cialis online overnight discount cialis

    May 25, 2021 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. CrulkAsd

    cialis no prescrip https://cialisjla.com/ – is cialis a vasodilator cialis 10mg ireland

    May 25, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. combigan

    brimonidine generic brimonidine use

    May 25, 2021 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. MileSwa

    kamagranow cialis https://ckacialis.com/ – buy cialis at walmart cialis walmart

    May 25, 2021 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Leave a Reply to EncoxGtv


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.