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Oxytocin & Optimism

September 26, 2011

A gene variant may influence a person’s outlook on life.



The genetics of optimism …I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Having a particular variant of a gene that controls the hormone oxytocin may influence how optimistic a person is. This according to UCLA social neuroscientists Shimon Saphire-Bernstein and Shelley Taylor. Taylor says the oxytocin receptor gene has two variants. The researchers found that volunteers with two copies of the adenine, or “A” form of the gene tend to have a different outlook on life than those with two copies of the guanine, or “G” form of the gene.


People who have an AA profile were less likely to be optimistic and somwheat more likely to be depressed.


She emphasizes that while the findings were robust, people with the “A” variant of the gene can learn techniques to help them deal with stress and depression successfully. She adds that developing strong social bonds can also help counteract the gene variant’s influence on a person’s outlook. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.