Niceness Is Genetic, Says Science


Are you one of those unlucky people dubbed “nice” by everyone? Worse, do you live in the South, and therefore people call you “sweet”? According to a new study by those super nice folks known as scientists, having two copies of the “G” gene in your DNA tends to mean that you are more empathetic, more trustworthy, more compassionate, and more cooperative. Plus, reports MSNBC, other people can detect your niceness based on looking at you for less than 20 seconds. Oh dear.

For the actual study, students watched short video clips in which people with different genetic makeups listened to their romantic partners share a story of suffering. Those watching the video could easily determine which of the listeners were more empathetic (and had the “double G genotype”) based on their body language.

Signs of niceness include non-verbal behaviors like smiling more, nodding your head, and having a lot of eye contact, as well as the intense desire to hug it out (even slightly open arms indicate genetic niceness). Signs of less-than-niceness involve screaming, shouting obscenities, hitting people, and threatening them with what may or may not be a weapon (this is according to our own research, and not that of science).

The G gene, appropriately, is the oxytocin receptor gene, and oxytocin, of course, is the “cuddle hormone.” So it makes sense that if you have more of it, you’re probably more cuddly. In existential questions of today: If jerks don’t have that extra gene, can they help their jerkdom?

Whether or not we needed science to differentiate between the assholes and the sweethearts remains to be seen, but like all things science, this is certainly interesting and provides excellent information on how to work the system to your benefit, should you not be very nice.

*Smiles; nods emphatically.*

Empathy may be in your genes — and on your face [MSNBC]


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