Oxytocin-Related Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms, Family Environment, and Psychopathic Traits

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psychopathy, oxytocin, genes, childhood emotional invalidation, empathy deficits

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Multiple studies have linked oxytocin to social behavior and affiliation–attachment. This research would suggest that oxytocin function may relate to the absence of loving kindness and empathy in psychopathy. The current study examined the associations between 3 oxytocin-related single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), participant-reported invalidating childhood environment, and psychopathic traits in community adults, predicting that alleles associated with higher empathy in the literature would relate to lower levels of psychopathic affective traits in particular. Results showed that the rs53576 SNP on the oxytocin receptor and cumulative risk alleles across the 3 SNPs were associated with psychopathic traits, and the interaction between cumulative risk and an emotionally invalidating environment was associated especially with affective deficits of psychopathy. Although this study requires replication in larger samples, results lend support to the role of attachment-related processes in psychopathy.

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Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, v. 9, issue 6, p. 584-589