A Longitudinal Multilevel Study of the "Social" Genotype and Diversity of the Phenotype

Front Psychol. 2018 Oct 24;9:2034. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02034. eCollection 2018.

Abstract

Sociability and social domain-related behaviors have been associated with better well-being and endogenous oxytocin levels. Inspection of the literature, however, reveals that the effects between sociability and health outcomes, or between sociability and genotype, are often weak or inconsistent. In the field of personality psychology, the social phenotype is often measured by error-prone assessments based on different theoretical frameworks, which can partly explain the inconsistency of the previous findings. In this study, we evaluated the generalizability of "sociability" measures by partitioning the population variance in adulthood sociability using five indicators from three personality inventories and assessed in two to four follow-ups over a 15-year period (n = 1,573 participants, 28,323 person-observations; age range 20-50 years). Furthermore, we tested whether this variance partition would shed more light to the inconsistencies surrounding the "social" genotype, by using four genetic variants (rs1042778, rs2254298, rs53576, rs3796863) previously associated with a wide range of human social functions. Based on our results, trait (between-individual) variance explained 23% of the variance in overall sociability, differences between sociability indicators explained 41%, state (within-individual) variance explained 5% and measurement errors explained 32%. The genotype was associated only with the sociability indicator variance, suggesting it has specific effects on sentimentality and emotional sharing instead of reflecting general sociability.

Keywords: longitudinal analysis; multilevel modeling; oxytocin gene; personality assessments; personality development; sociability.