Empathetic character traits, such as being trustworthy and caring, may be powerfully linked to our genetics. A new study, recently published on November 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims that a gene associated with empathy and sociability “is so powerful that even strangers observing 20 seconds of silent video identified people with a particular genetic variation to be more caring,” according to a press release by Oregon State University.

“Our findings suggest even slight genetic variation may have tangible impact on people’s behavior, and that these behavioral differences are quickly noticed by others,” said Aleksandr Kogan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and the study’s lead author.

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