3 years ago

A field study of the association between CD38 gene and altruistic behavior: Empathic response as a mediator

Inspired by the enhancement effects of oxytocin on empathic responses and altruistic behaviors, we conducted a field study with a real fundraising event and investigated to what extent oxytocin pathway genes (CD38 and OXTR) modulate individual differences in charitable donation. Participants were informed that a teacher in their university was diagnosed with uremia and could not afford the cost of medication. They were given the opportunity to donate any amount of money and report their empathic responses to the misfortune of the teacher. We found a significant association between CD38 rs3796863 and the amount of donation both before and after controlling for gender, age, subjective socioeconomic status, religious belief, and social desirability. Individuals with the genotypes (AA/AC) leading to higher oxytocin levels reported stronger empathic responses and donated more money than individuals with the CC genotype. Moreover, empathic response mediated the gene-altruism association. However, we observed no significant associations between the three polymorphisms of OXTR (rs53576, rs2254298, and rs1042778) and the amount of donation. This study demonstrates the importance of CD38 as a source of individual differences in altruistic behavior and highlights the role of empathic response in bridging the link between the oxytocin pathway gene and altruism.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S030645301730330X

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