Is Being a Good Samaritan Genetic?

Being a Good Samaritan might be genetic, research shows. The phrase "Good Samaritan" refers to a parable from the Bible in which a traveler stops to help a wounded person when others had not. Scientists believe that the difference between those who tend to help others and those who do not might be a gene variation in the 5-HTTLPR region, which is related to social anxiety. This gene region is responsible for transmitting serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood. People who have higher levels of anxiety around other people might be less likely to intervene to help others because of their social discomfort.

More about people and good deeds:

  • About one out of every three adults in the US reportedly volunteers their time or money on a regular basis.

  • The part of the brain that is activated when a person receives a reward has been found to activate in nearly the same way when a person gives money to charity.

  • One study of twins found that genetics could be responsible for about 55% of a person’s likelihood to help others, with morals and environment accounting for the other 45%.

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