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Social Intelligence (redirected from social_intelligence)

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DIYgenomics Social Intelligence Genomics Study

DIYgenomics wiki homepage


Title: Social Intelligence Study: Assessing Genotype-Phenotype Linkage in Optimism, Empathy, Extraversion, and Altruism


Summary: Mental performance and social intelligence genomics is an important new area of research with many recent studies investigating potential linkage between personal genetic profiles and aspects of social intelligence. This study seeks to investigate the overall social intelligence profile of individuals by examining genetic profiles and responses to phenotypic questionnaires.


Hypothesis: Individuals with certain genetic profiles (e.g.; the favorable genotype) may have greater natural capacity for characteristics of social intelligence.


Genotype data: At least three genetic polymorphisms will be reviewed: OXTR rs53576,[i],[ii],[iii] DRD2/ANKK1 rs1800497,[iv] COMT Val158Met rs4680,[v] and CRHR1[vi] which have been associated respectively with optimism and empathy, extraversion, and altruism, and additional DRD2 SNPs related to openness to experience (rs4274224, rs4581480 and rs12364283, rs2283265, and rs1076560).[vii]


Phenotype data: Standardized online survey instruments will be used for the phenotypic assessment of optimism, empathy, extraversion, and altruism. The same instruments used in the initial studies may be used and/or supplemented with other recognized standards used by researchers in these fields.

  • General personality indicator
    • Big Five Personality Test (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) (44 questions) (REQUIRED)
    • NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO PI-R) (300 questions) (OPTIONAL)
  • Empathy
  • Optimism
    • Life Orientation Test – Revised (10 questions) (REQUIRED)
  • Extraversion
    • (Same as above) Big Five Personality Test (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) (44 questions) (REQUIRED)
  • Altruism


Study protocol: Minimum n=100, goal n=1000. Ongoing open enrollment in a study with one and six month endpoints. Participants randomized into three groups: 

A: Control group: No intervention

B: Experimental group 1: receives 5 randomized empathy-related text messages/day delivered by server (examples: "Who could you offer to help today?, What
challenge do you have that a lot of other people probably have too?, What did you notice about the emotional state you saw someone else in recently?")

C: Experimental group 2: receives 5 randomized empathy-related text messages/day delivered by ELIZA program such that they can respond back to and have a
SIRI-like dialogue with the program

All participants take the two industry standard empathy questionnaires (IRI and Empathy Quotient) at the beginning and end of four weeks and 22 weeks (per a study advisor: data may show a change after 4 weeks, but 22 weeks is recommended for lasting behavior change).


Study conduct: The study will be conducted in a healthy crowdsourced cohort. Enrollment will be open and ongoing, with at least 100 participants sought for the first phase of data analysis. Study recruitment and operation will be via the internet-based health collaboration community Genomera.com. The process is that participants will join the study, complete an informed consent process, agree to share personal genotyping data for the required variants, and complete the online survey instruments. Personalized feedback will be provided to participants.


Potential Study Advisors:

Laura Saslow, PhD, Berkeley

Judy Moskowitz, PhD, UCSF

Tia Rich, PhD, Stanford CCARES


Potential citizen ethicist review: (see Ethical Review Q&A)

Alexander Gerlyand, Biotechnology professional

Amanda Kahn-Kirby, Biotechnology professional

[i] Saphire-Bernstein S, Way BM, Kim HS, Sherman DK, Taylor SE. Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is related to psychological resources. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):15118-22.

[ii] Kogan A, Saslow LR, Impett EA, Oveis C, Keltner D, Rodrigues Saturn S. Thin-slicing study of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and the evaluation and expression of the prosocial disposition. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Nov 14.

[iii] Rodrigues SM, Saslow LR, Garcia N, John OP, Keltner D. Oxytocin receptor genetic variation relates to empathy and stress reactivity in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 15;106(50):21437-41.

[iv] Smillie LD, Cooper AJ, Pickering AD. Individual differences in reward-prediction-error: extraversion and feedback-related negativity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2011 Oct;6(5):646-52.

[v] Reuter M, Frenzel C, Walter NT, Markett S, Montag C. Investigating the genetic basis of altruism: the role of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2011 Oct;6(5):662-8.

[vi] Refojo D, Schweizer M, Kuehne C, Ehrenberg S, Thoeringer C, Vogl AM, Dedic N, Schumacher M, von Wolff G, Avrabos C, Touma C, Engblom D, Schütz G, Nave KA, Eder M, Wotjak CT, Sillaber I, Holsboer F, Wurst W, Deussing JM. Glutamatergic and dopaminergic neurons mediate anxiogenic and anxiolytic effects of CRHR1. Science. 2011 Sep 30;333(6051):1903-7.

[vii] Peciña M, Mickey BJ, Love T, Wang H, Langenecker SA, Hodgkinson C, Shen PH, Villafuerte S, Hsu D, Weisenbach SL, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK. DRD2 polymorphisms modulate reward and emotion processing, dopamine neurotransmission and openness to experience. Cortex. 2012 Feb 14.

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