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Angela
24-08-16, 01:21
The answer shouldn't surprise anyone. It is...very.

See:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11031-016-9573-7


"Empathy is an important psychological concept influencing social interaction. However, knowledge about its etiological components is still scarce. Estimates for the heritability of empathy range between 0 and 70 % depending on the sample, method of measurement, and level of aggregation. In this study, we investigated the heritability of empathy using an extended twin design. We employed the self-report questionnaire Interpersonal Reactivity Index and an emotion recognition task (Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test). N = 742 twins and non-twin siblings were investigated. For affective empathy and the behavioral paradigm, we found heritability estimates between 52 and 57 %. For cognitive empathy, genetic variance was smaller (27 %), indicating that the heritability of empathy depends on the measured subcomponent, which could be relevant for intervention programs like empathy or compassion trainings. Environmental influences on empathy are mainly effects of non-shared environment, which is an important finding for our understanding of the development of empathy."

There's a very funny video on the internet about how Italian girls/women tend to interrogate dates. Well, I didn't interrogate them, but I did ask all sorts of leading questions, or put them in very "revealing" situations so as to expose personality traits. This one was a biggie, because either someone is or is not empathetic. If they're not, I don't want them in my personal life, either as lover, friend, colleague etc. I don't trust them if they're not.

Garrick
25-08-16, 19:31
Excellent topic.

But what surprised me in the paper (and authors in some extent) is almost negligible effect of shared environment in relation to the non-shared environment.

Is it possible or maybe there is imperfection in research instrument.

Angela
25-08-16, 21:13
Excellent topic.

But what surprised me in the paper (and authors in some extent) is almost negligible effect of shared environment in relation to the non-shared environment.

Is it possible or maybe there is imperfection in research instrument.

That struck me too. There are findings like that when they look at similarities between siblings too. Counter-intuitive, right? You'd expect a shared home environment to be more important, but it isn't.

This is a paper about it with regard to siblings:

See: Why are the children in the same family so different from one another?

http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/3/563.full

This just explains what they're studying:

"Thus, adoption and twin studies can separate environmental variance for behavioral traits into two components. One component, called shared environment, includes all environmental influences that make children in a family similar to one another. This component of variance can be estimated in three ways: (1) from the correlation for genetically unrelated children reared together in the same adoptive families, (2) from the difference in correlations for relatives reared together and relatives adopted apart, and (3) from twin studies, as the remainder of phenotypic variance when genetic variance, variance due to nonshared environment, and error are removed. Environmental variance not due to shared environment is called nonshared environment; this portion of environmental variance makes family members different from one another. This variance component is usually estimated as the remainder of phenotypic variance once variance due to heredity, shared environment, and error of measurement is removed. Differences within pairs of identical twins reared together provides a direct estimate of nonshared environment as experienced by identical twins."

Their conclusion in terms of personality:

"Thus, a consistent - though perplexing - pattern is emerging from the data (and it is not purely idiosyncratic to our study). Environment carries substantial weight in determining personality - it appears to account for at least half the variance - but that environment is one for which twin pairs are correlated close to zero … In short, in the personality domain we seem to see environmental effects that operate almost randomly with respect to the sorts of variables that psychologists (and other people) have traditionally deemed important in personality development8 (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/3/563.full#ref-8). [p. 92]"


I have to say, as a mother this is rather reassuring. It's not all our fault. :)