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Do culture and oxytocin receptor polymorphisms interact to influence emotional expressivity?

Abstract

Drawing on recent evidence suggesting that individuals having the G allele of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) polymorphism are especially susceptible to socio-cultural environmental influences, including cultural norms, the present study investigated the interplay of culture and two OXTR polymorphisms (rs53576 and rs2254298) in the domain of emotional expressivity, which is culturally encouraged in Western cultures. Testing Japanese and European Canadian undergraduates, we found cultural differences in negative emotional expressivity and positive emotional expressivity. As expected, the European Canadians were greater in positive emotional expressivity than the Japanese. In contrast, the pattern was reversed in negative emotional expressivity. A series of multiple regression analyses entering gender and personality traits as control variables showed that neither culture nor the two OXTR polymorphisms interact to negative emotional expressivity and positive emotional expressivity. The present null findings suggest that continued examination with larger samples would better elucidate results on the interactions among culture, OXTR, and socioemotional behaviors.

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Notes

  1. Ishii et al. (2018), Matsunaga et al. (2017), and Ohtsubo et al. (2019) used the same Japanese dataset and Matsunaga et al. (2018) and Ohtsubo et al. (2019) used a part of the Canadian dataset, although they used different measures in their analyses.

  2. We performed a multiple group analysis for each facet to examine metric equivalence. For negative expressivity, metric invariance was tested by a model constraining factor loadings equal across Japanese and Canadians (df = 23, χ2 = 48.40, Akaike Information Criterion [AIC] = 9811.1, Bayesian Information Criterion [BIC] = 9939.6) and was established, df difference = 5, χ2 difference = 4.64, p = .46. For positive expressivity, metric invariance was tested by a model constraining factor loadings equal across Japanese and Canadians (df = 7, χ2 = 10.61, AIC = 6098.1, BIC = 6185.2) and was established, df difference = 3, χ2 difference = 2.86, p = .41. For impulse strength, partial intercept invariance was accordingly tested (df = 25, χ2 = 149.54, AIC = 10171, BIC = 10292) and was established, df difference = 2, χ2 difference = 0.94, p = .63.

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Acknowledgement

The research was supported by Topic-Setting Program to Advance Cutting-Edge Humanities and Social Sciences Research Area Cultivation (#D-4), the Japan Society for the Promotion Science. We thank Amy Chan, Elsie Chang, Lili Gang, Miho Iwasaki, Mindy Jiang, Naoki Konishi, Maki Oba, Misaki Ochi, Angelica Paras, Shunta Sasaki, and Mana Yamaguchi for their support in carrying out this work.

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Correspondence to Keiko Ishii.

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The study was reviewed and approved by the ethics committees at Kobe University and the University of Alberta. The participants provided a written informed consent at the beginning of the study. All responses were confidential.

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Ishii, K., Masuda, T., Matsunaga, M. et al. Do culture and oxytocin receptor polymorphisms interact to influence emotional expressivity?. Cult. Brain 9, 20–34 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40167-020-00091-5

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