The Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) Contributes to Prosocial Fund Allocations in the Dictator Game and the Social Value Orientations Task

Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 05/2009; 4(5):e5535. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005535
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Economic games observe social decision making in the laboratory that involves real money payoffs. Previously we have shown that allocation of funds in the Dictator Game (DG), a paradigm that illustrates costly altruistic behavior, is partially determined by promoter-region repeat region variants in the arginine vasopressin 1a receptor gene (AVPR1a). In the current investigation, the gene encoding the related oxytocin receptor (OXTR) was tested for association with the DG and a related paradigm, the Social Values Orientation (SVO) task.
Association (101 male and 102 female students) using a robust-family based test between 15 single tagging SNPs (htSNPs) across the OXTR was demonstrated with both the DG and SVO. Three htSNPs across the gene region showed significant association with both of the two games. The most significant association was observed with rs1042778 (p = 0.001). Haplotype analysis also showed significant associations for both DG and SVO. Following permutation test adjustment, significance was observed for 2-5 locus haplotypes (p<0.05). A second sample of 98 female subjects was subsequently and independently recruited to play the dictator game and was genotyped for the three significant SNPs found in the first sample. The rs1042778 SNP was shown to be significant for the second sample as well (p = 0.004, Fisher's exact test).
The demonstration that genetic polymorphisms for the OXTR are associated with human prosocial decision making converges with a large body of animal research showing that oxytocin is an important social hormone across vertebrates including Homo sapiens. Individual differences in prosocial behavior have been shown by twin studies to have a substantial genetic basis and the current investigation demonstrates that common variants in the oxytocin receptor gene, an important element of mammalian social circuitry, underlie such individual differences.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Despite evidence for the associations of positive affect to prosocial behaviors and internalizing problems, relatively little is known about the underlying etiology. The sample comprised over 300 twin pairs at age 3. Positive affect, prosocial behaviors, and internalizing problems were assessed using the Toddler Behavior Assessment Questionnaire (Goldsmith, 1996), the Revised Rutter Parent Scale for Preschool Children (Hogg, Rutter, & Richman, 1997), and the Child Behavior Checklist for ages 1.5-5 (Achenbach, 1991), respectively. Positive affect correlated positively with prosocial behaviors, and negatively with internalizing problems. Prosocial behaviors were negatively associated with internalizing problems. The relations of positive affect to prosocial behaviors and internalizing problems were due to environmental effects (shared and nonshared). In contrast, the link between prosocial behaviors and internalizing problems was entirely explained by genetic effects. The current study has moved beyond prior emphasis on negative affect and elucidated the less understood etiology underlying the associations between positive affect, prosocial behaviors, and internalizing problems. This study could guide the development of programs for promoting prosocial behaviors and alleviating internalizing problems in children.
    Frontiers in Psychology 04/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00416 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: This study tests the hypothesis that the decision-making process in humans is often based on the fairness rather than the monetary gain/loss, when they are confronted with a choice between fairness and monetary gain/loss. Methods: The classical Ultimatum Game (UG) is used as the experimental paradigm to quantify the threshold crossover-point to switch the decision from rejection to acceptance. The fairness stimulus-response function is used for quantifying the decision threshold and the co-variation relationship between fairness and monetary gain/loss. Results: The results show that the level of fairness perception is always 27.5% lower for the rejection decision than the acceptance decision, irrespective of the offer-ratio (i.e., monetary gain/loss) or the baseline level of fairness for that decision. The data also show a co-variation relationship between fairness and offer-ratio (monetary gain/loss), but such proportionality relationship is decoupled at the even-split singularity point. The analysis shows that the decision crossover threshold is located at a slightly unfair perception, indicating tolerance to some unfairness in the decision. This suggests that a rejection decision is made when the unfairness perception threshold is reached. Conclusion: These analyses validated the hypothesis that the decision to accept/reject the monetary offer is logically consistent using the fairness criterion as the threshold for decision along the fairness-axis — even for accepting inequitable offers or rejecting hyper-equitable offers, irrespective of the amount of monetary gain/loss. The apparent decision based on the monetary gain/loss criterion is only a side effect of the co-variation between fairness and monetary gain.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The present study explores the associations among allelic variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), attachment security, and predictors of disclosure. Using the risk revelation model as a guiding framework, risk assessments, communication efficacy, and closeness were investigated. Two-hundred four participants provided saliva samples (from which DNA was extracted) and completed surveys addressing aspects of disclosure, attachment, and relationship characteristics. The results revealed significant interactions between OXTR and attachment security on risk assessments and closeness. Insecurely attached individuals showed greater variability in their assessments of the risks of disclosing and feelings of closeness based on their genotype compared to individuals who were securely attached. Insecurely attached individuals with a known “risk allele” (i.e., the A allele) were more likely to see risks to disclosing to their romantic partners and rated closeness with their partners lower than those with the alternative genotype (i.e., the GG genotype). These findings and their implications for theories of disclosure are discussed.
    Communication Monographs 11/2015; 82(1):113-133. DOI:10.1080/03637751.2014.993544 · 2.54 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 22, 2014