We may now have that marker: a deletion variant of the ADRA2bgene. Carriers remember emotionally arousing images more vividly and for a longer time, and they also show more activation of the amygdala when viewing such images (Todd and Anderson, 2009;Todd et al., 2015). This is not to say that the ADRA2b deletion variant is the sole reason or even the major reason why some people have increased capacity for affective empathy. As with intelligence, an increase in capacity seems to have come about through changes of small effect at many genes.
Includes ability to learn from one’s mistakes (amygdala learns).
Affective empathy – impulsive, no control over it.
This variant was first studied in the United States. Small et al. (2001) found a higher incidence in Caucasians (31%) than in African Americans (12%). Belfer et al. (2005) likewise found a higher incidence in Caucasians (37%) than in African Americans (21%).
In a press release, the authors of the latest study noted that this variant is not equally common in all humans:
Well if that doesn’t fuck up their egalitarian premise in one fell swoop.
The ADRA2b deletion variant appears in varying degrees across different ethnicities. Although roughly 50 per cent of the Caucasian population studied by these researchers in Canada carry the genetic variation, it has been found to be prevalent in other ethnicities. For example, one study found that just 10 per cent of Rwandans carried theADRA2b gene variant. (UBC News, 2015)
Curiously, its incidence seems higher among “Canadian Caucasians” (50%) than among “American Caucasians” (31-37%). This may reflect differences in participant recruitment or in ethnic mix between the two countries. Indeed, the “Caucasian” category may prove to be problematic because it includes people from both sides of the Hajnal Line. If the average incidence is 31% to 50%, there may be populations that score much higher.
Asians, a collectivist and allocentric lot, score highest.
But such collectivism also gives rise to mass slaughter so I’d wager the Middle Path is best on this one.
I want to test the pathological altruists. Come on, it’s tempting, isn’t it? 90+% I’d think, sadly in a religious society they’d be among our brightest.