It’s likely you have some familiarity with the term Emotional intelligence. You may even know about what it is, how to spot it in others—and how to improve yours for better relating. A new study is now pointing to our genes and how they might play a role in our EQ. Yes, this is interesting, but I fear it could lead folks to think they were born a certain way, and that is that. Not true, you can improve your EQ—however charisma and social dexterity do come easier to some than to others. Here’s what the study found.
Psychologists at the University of Georgia found that when a SPECIFIC gene was silenced, it seemed to have an effect on the person’s ability to form healthy relationships. They also noted that this gene aids in a person’s ability to recognize the emotional states of others—which by the way is an essential component of high EQ. They blame a process called methylation, which impacts how a gene expresses itself, and in this case, it’s the OXT gene that is implicated. That is because it is this gene that produces oxytocin, which is a hormone that influences a wide range of social behavior in all mammals.
When methylation is increased it suppresses the OXT gene, which then lowers its activity and ability to do its job. This study shows it has a marked impact on social functioning. Participants were put through tests that evaluated their social skills and their brain structure and function. What researchers found is that those who had higher amounts of methylation of the OXT gene had lower levels of expression—and this resulted in a marked difficulty recognizing emotions in the expressions of others as well as an increase in anxiety about their relationships in general. MRI’s found that those with increased methylation of the OXT gene had reduced neural activity in areas of the brain associated with social-cognitive processing.
If you want to know more, this study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or on