Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Those genetically predisposed to anxiousness may be less likely to volunteer, help others

Date:
October 15, 2013
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
A researcher has found that prosocial behavior, such as volunteering and helping others, is related to the same gene that predisposes individuals to anxiety disorders. Helping such individuals cope with their anxiety may increase their prosocial behavior, the researcher said.

Scientists increasingly are uncovering answers for human behavior through genetic research. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that prosocial behavior, such as volunteering and helping others, is related to the same gene that predisposes individuals to anxiety disorders. Helping such individuals cope with their anxiety may increase their prosocial behavior, the researcher said.

"Prosocial behavior is linked closely to strong social skills and is considered a marker of individuals' health and well-being," said Gustavo Carlo, Millsap Professor of Diversity in MU's College of Human Environmental Sciences. "Social people are more likely to be healthier, excel academically, experience career success and develop deeper interpersonal relationships that may help alleviate stress."

Carlo and his colleagues found that, on average, those individuals who carried the genotype associated with higher social anxiety were less likely to engage in prosocial behavior.

"Previous research has shown that the brain's serotonin neurotransmitter system plays an important role in regulating emotions," said study co-author Scott Stoltenberg, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Our findings suggest that individual differences in social anxiety levels are influenced by this serotonin system gene and that these differences help to partially explain why some people are more likely than others to behave prosocially. Studies like this one show that biological factors are critical influences on how people interact with one another."

Because prosocial behavior is linked to genetically based anxiety, Carlo suggests that helping nervous individuals cope with their social anxiety through targeted efforts, such as encouragement, support, counseling and medication, could help them engage in more prosocial behavior.

"Some forms of anxieties can be very debilitating for individuals," Carlo said. "When people have severe levels of social anxiety, such as agoraphobia, which is the fear of public places and large crowds, they will avoid social situations altogether and miss the prosocial opportunities."

Carlo said that it is difficult to distinguish how much of prosocial behavior is based on learned environmental behavior and how much is biologically based.

"The nature-versus-nurture debate is always interesting," Carlo said. "However, I think that in our contemporary models of human behavior, we are beginning to understand the interplay between biology and the environment."

Much of Carlo's previous study on prosocial development has focused on how environmental influences, such as family relationships, influence prosocial behavior. This study brings researchers closer to understanding the effect that individuals' biological makeup has on their behaviors, Carlo said.

Carlo co-authored the study, "Afraid to help: Social anxiety partially mediates the association between 5-HTTLPR triallelic genotype and prosocial behavior," with Stoltenberg and Christa Christ, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Social Neuroscience, which also contained a commentary about the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carlo et al. Afraid to help: Social anxiety partially mediates the association between 5-HTTLPR triallelic genotype and prosocial behavior. Social Neuroscience, September 2013

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Those genetically predisposed to anxiousness may be less likely to volunteer, help others." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015103835.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, October 15). Those genetically predisposed to anxiousness may be less likely to volunteer, help others. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015103835.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Those genetically predisposed to anxiousness may be less likely to volunteer, help others." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131015103835.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins