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OXTR Gene DNA Methylation Levels Are Associated with Discounting Behavior with Untrustworthy Proposers

  • anzani;, stefano
Publication Date
Jan 12, 2022
DOI: 10.3390/brainsci12010098
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Individual differences in temporal and probabilistic discounting are associated with a wide range of life outcomes in literature. Traditional approaches have focused on impulsiveness and cognitive control skills, on goal-oriented personality traits as well as on the psychological perception of time. More recently, literature started to consider the role of social and contextual factors in discounting behavior. Between others, higher generalized trust in human beings and specific trust in people who will deliver the future/probabilistic rewards have been related to a stronger willingness to wait and to assume risk. Moreover, the tendency to trust others has been associated with the oxytocin receptor gene regulation that can be modified by life experiences. In this perspective, we hypothesized that differences in the tendency to wait and to take risks for a more desirable reward according to the proposer’s trustworthiness could be related to a different level of DNA methylation at the oxytocin receptor gene. Findings confirmed that participants are less willing to wait and to risk when the proposer is considered highly untrustworthy and revealed how higher oxytocin receptor gene DNA methylation is associated with a stronger effect due to the presence of an untrustworthy proposer. Limits and future directions are outlined.

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