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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 May 16;114(20):5300-5305. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1700712114. Epub 2017 May 1.

Variation in the β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine receptor genes is associated with different dimensions of human sociality.

Author information

1
Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom.
2
Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom; robin.dunbar@psy.ox.ac.uk.
3
Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, Espoo FI 00076, Finland.

Abstract

There is growing evidence that the number and quality of social relationships have substantial impacts on health, well-being, and longevity, and, at least in animals, on reproductive fitness. Although it is widely recognized that these outcomes are mediated by a number of neuropeptides, the roles these play remain debated. We suggest that an overemphasis on one neuropeptide (oxytocin), combined with a failure to distinguish between different social domains, has obscured the complexity involved. We use variation in 33 SNPs for the receptor genes for six well-known social neuropeptides in relation to three separate domains of sociality (social disposition, dyadic relationships, and social networks) to show that three neuropeptides (β-endorphin, oxytocin, and dopamine) play particularly important roles, with each being associated predominantly with a different social domain. However, endorphins and dopamine have a much wider compass than oxytocin (whose effects are confined to romantic/reproductive relationships and often do not survive control for other neuropeptides). In contrast, vasopressin, serotonin, and testosterone play only limited roles.

KEYWORDS:

empathy; genetics; romantic relationships; social networks; social neuropeptides

PMID:
28461468
PMCID:
PMC5441808
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1700712114
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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