Do You Have The Kindness Gene?

Being caring, trustworthy and kind could be in our DNA.  A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from California, Oregon and Toronto have identified a gene variation that seems to be linked with being caring and trustworthy. Sounds kind of far-fetched to me. But the study makes an interesting point. When 23 couples were videotaped having each partner describe a moment of suffering, outside viewers rated how caring, kind and trustworthy he or she reacted to their partner as they told the story. Interestingly, those who were rated “pro-social” had the genotype for kindness while those who were rated “least trusted” had the genotype for less empathy and parental sensitivity.  Furthermore, the viewers only needed 20 seconds to rate the couples. Seems first impressions really do make an impact!

So what does this mean? Will there soon be genetically engineered kind people? Does it mean that unkind people are off the hook to change their behavior because they can’t help themselves? Most of us are a mixed bag, all prone to being kind and unkind at times. And even of there is a kindness gene and we don’t have it, genetics are not everything. Practicing kindness regularly enough to form a habit changes your brain chemistry and literally a working part of your mind. So gene or no gene. we can all engineer our bodies, minds and souls for the good.

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One thought on “Do You Have The Kindness Gene?

  1. My book club recently read Defending Jacob by William Landay wherein the theory is put forward that criminal behavior runs in a family generation to generation. This defense was pivotal in trying to figure out guilt or innocense in the story. The premise generated great fodder for discussion and really planted a seed in our thinking. We decided that if it could be argued and/or proven that this kind of behavior lurked in our genes, it would make sense that maybe some of us (most of us, hopefully) house a kindness or giving gene. I founded and delight in giving through my Giving Circle, and I had to laugh when I thought through the kindness gene question. I decided maybe giving was in my genes…..my brother seems to have it as proven when he gave away my Brownie ring to his first-grade girlfriends all those many years ago and he is still a very generous, giving man. I used to give away my toys as a child and my own behavior was so ingrained that my mother was always weary of my giving away my possessions.; she thought I’d be homeless and live without…..I assured her I did have a shut-off valve. All kidding aside, it’s a stretch, probably, that subtle behavior can be mapped in our genes, but if thee is a propensity for kindness or good, the “owner” should take advantage and use it generously and continue to pass it on!

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