Perspective-taking is one of the dimensions of empathic traits and refers to the ability to understand a situation from another person’s mental state like— their beliefs, desires, and intentions. While disease-specific empathic deficits have been linked to several psychiatric conditions, recent research has also established a considerable variability of empathic dispositions in healthy subjects.
One of the most frequently used psychological tests of such empathic dispositions is Davis’ Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), a well-known and respected self-report to measure cognitive and affective empathy aspects.
In this study, researchers analyzed associations of a common polymorphism of the GNAS gene (C393T/rs7121) with four dimensions of empathic traits (perspective taking, fantasy, empathic concern, and personal distress) using IRI. The participants were a previously characterized sample of 421 healthy blood donors (231 Males, 190 Females; age 18–74). Results showed that none of the IRI scores was near to being significantly associated with rs7121 genotype for men alone. However, genotype was significantly associated with cognitive empathy and perspective-taking in females. In addition, the association of genotype with perspective-taking in the female remained significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Median scores of perspective-taking decreased for samples with TT genotype compared to C-allele carriers. The C allele of rs7121, which had been identified as a risk factor in several medical conditions such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, was associated with higher cognitive empathy in this study.
If you would like to know more about this research, you can read the study here:
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