Avpr1a variant associated with preschoolers' lower altruistic behavior

Reut Avinun, Salomon Israel, Idan Shalev, Inga Gritsenko, Gary Bornstein, Richard P. Ebstein, Ariel Knafo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genetic origins of altruism, defined here as a costly act aimed to benefit non-kin individuals, have not been examined in young children. However, previous findings concerning adults pointed at the arginine vasopressin receptor 1A (AVPR1A) gene as a possible candidate. AVPR1A has been associated with a range of behaviors including aggressive, affiliative and altruistic phenotypes, and recently a specific allele (327 bp) of one of its promoter region polymorphisms (RS3) has been singled out in particular. We modeled altruistic behavior in preschoolers using a laboratory-based economic paradigm, a modified dictator game (DG), and tested for association between DG allocations and the RS3 "target allele." Using both population and family-based analyses we show a significant link between lower allocations and the RS3 "target allele," associating it, for the first time, with a lower proclivity toward altruistic behavior in children. This finding helps further the understanding of the intricate mechanisms underlying early altruistic behavior.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere25274
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 28 Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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