A recent study has found evidence of a genetic link to how much empathy we have. When asked to define empathy, most people would say it’s the ability to relate to the feelings of others, but its more than just that. It also has to do with figuring out the thoughts, intentions, and motivations of others and provides subtext for communication. The study included 46,861 participants who used 23 and me and took a diagnostic tool called the EQ, which tells you how empathetic you are.
They found some interesting things. First, it seems that 10 % of our ability to empathize with others comes from our genes. Although women generally scored slightly higher on the EQ test than men, none of the genes believed to be involved have anything to do with sex. They are however associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders. This makes sense as people on the spectrum often have trouble with empathy.
The EQ test can be taken here, if you are interested. I scored 17. After taking it, I can’t help but wonder about something. Since people are answering questions about themselves, couldn’t their perspective be skewed a bit due to lack of objectivity? Would that fact make this a less than effective tool for a scientific study? It is interesting nonetheless.