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Mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) moderates the influence of perceived parental attention on social support seeking

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Caring, sensitive parenting is known to be associated with higher levels of engagement in support-seeking behaviors among children and young adolescents. However, no study has yet explored the role of perceived parental attention in social support seeking in early adulthood. Growing evidence suggests that the µ-opioid receptor gene polymorphism (OPRM1 A118G) moderates one’s responsiveness to social environments. Prompted by the differential susceptibility theory of gene–environment interaction, the present study examined whether the OPRM1 polymorphism would moderate the association between perceived parental attention and social support seeking in early adulthood.


Six hundred and twenty Japanese undergraduate students self-reported the amount of attention they subjectively perceived their parents to have given them during childhood and completed scales that assess support-seeking behaviors. Clippings of their fingernails were collected for genotyping.


The results showed that the interactive effect of perceived parental attention and OPRM1 genotypes on social support seeking was significant. Specifically, perceived parental attention only significantly and positively predicted OPRM1 GG carriers’ social support seeking in response to stress.


The findings support the view that OPRM1 polymorphism moderates the association between early experiences and developmental outcomes.

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Data Availability

The data generated or analyzed during this study are available as supplementary file.


  1. Even when gender was removed from the models, the significant results remained. Please see the supplementary materials for more details.


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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.

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Zheng, S., Ishii, K., Masuda, T. et al. Mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1) moderates the influence of perceived parental attention on social support seeking. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology 8, 281–295 (2022).

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