All human traits are heritable. For blood donation, Pedersen and colleagues (2015) reported additive genetic effects explaining 53% of the variance in the propensity to become a blood donor and shared environmental effects explaining 28% of the variance. In this set of projects, we further investigate these genetic determinants of prosocial behavior.

Currently, we are working on a project that takes a closer look at how the association between education and prosocial behavior can be interpreted from a genetic perspective.

Education attainment is correlated with a wide range of socially desirable outcomes, including prosocial behaviours such as volunteering, charitable giving, and providing financial assistance. Education also has well-studied genetic correlates: The largest (n = 1.131,881) genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date identified 1,271 lead single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with heterogeneous effects on educational attainment (J. J. Lee et al., 2018). 11% of the variance could be explained by polygenic scores, based on identified genetic variants (J. J. Lee et al., 2018).

In the current research we seek to identify genetic effects on educational attainment and prosocial behavior by isolating them from environmental influences, both within the education system as well as from the family of origin.

Our research questions are:

1. To what extent do genes that predict educational attainment predict prosocial behaviour?

2. To what extent are the relationships between genes that predict educational attainment and prosocial behaviour mediated by educational attainment by the respondents and their parents?

3. Are the relationships with education attainment stronger for formal prosocial behavior than for informal prosocial behavior?

If you have any questions and want to learn more about the project, please contact Ting Li. 



Pedersen, O. B., Axel, S., Rostgaard, K., Erikstrup, C., Edgren, G., Nielsen, K. R., … & Hjalgrim, H. (2015). The heritability of blood donation: a populationā€based nationwide twin study. Transfusion, 55(9), 2169-2174.

Lee, J. J., Wedow, R., Okbay, A., Kong, E., Maghzian, O., Zacher, M., … & Cesarini, D. (2018). Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals. Nature Genetics, 50(8), 1112-1121.