Additionally, couples in which at least one partner had the GG genotype reported greater attachment security and less anxious attachment. Anxious attachment involves relationship insecurity, lower self-worth, rejection sensitivity and need for approval.
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“In other words,” according to the study, “GG wives were less anxiously attached, and their lower anxious attachment was related to greater marital satisfaction. Likewise, GG husbands were less anxiously attached which benefited their marital satisfaction.”
This makes sense, considering research has shown that low anxious attachment is associated with better relationships, “probably because less anxiously attached individuals are less likely to be jealous and intrusive in their caregiving behaviors than more anxiously attached individuals,” authors wrote.
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Overall, the findings suggest that the oxytocin receptor variant (OXTR rs53576) “marks a socially aware and responsive disposition that makes it more likely to form cognitive representations of others as being available and responsive.”
Previous research has also noted that empathy and stress responsiveness are both influenced by oxytocin—and individuals who are homozygous for the G allele (GG) tend to be "more adept at inferring the mental states of others" and experience "tonically higher levels of empathy." Another study found the gene is also associated with support-seeking behaviors. But the Yale study is believed to be the first to examine the role of the OXTR rs53576 in marital satisfaction.
“This study shows that how we feel in our close relationships is influenced by more than just our shared experiences with our partners over time,” Monin said in a statement. “In marriage, people are also influenced by their own and their partner’s genetic predispositions.”
A possible limitation, authors point out, is that it lacks racial and socioeconomic diversity and can hamper generalizability.
Read the full study at journals.plos.org.