Polymorphism of the Oxytocin Receptor Gene Modulates Behavioral and Attitudinal Trust among Men but Not Women

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 7;10(10):e0137089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137089. eCollection 2015.


A relationship between the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and behavioral and attitudinal trust has been suggested, but the nature of this relationship has not yet been established. We obtained behavioral trust data from 470 Japanese participants (242 women) aged 20-59 years, together with their levels of general trust and personality traits (NEO-FFI). Saliva buccal swabs were collected from 411 of these 470 participants and used for genotyping of OXTR rs53576. Our participants were found to have more AA alleles (40%) than GG alleles (12%). The GG men were more trusting and also rated higher on attitudinal trust than AA men, and this difference did not diminish when personality traits were controlled for. However, this pattern was not observed among women. In addition, controlling for attitudinal trust reduced the difference in behavioral trust among men to a non-significant level, but the difference in attitudinal trust remained significant when behavioral trust was controlled. These results indicate that the OXTR genotype affects attitudinal trust as part of an individual's relatively stable disposition, and further affects behavioral trust through changes in attitudinal trust.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxytocin / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, Oxytocin / genetics*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Behavior*
  • Trust / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • OXTR protein, human
  • Receptors, Oxytocin
  • Oxytocin

Grants and funding

This study was funded by Japan Society for the Promotion of Scientific Grant #25118004 and #23223003 https://www.jsps.go.jp/english/index.html. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.