Oxytocin receptor polymorphism and childhood social experiences shape adult personality, brain structure and neural correlates of mentalizing
BACKGROUND Abundant research shows that childhood adversity increases the risk for adult psychopathology while research on influences of positive family environment on risk for psychopathology is limited. Similarly, a growing body of research examines genetic and gene by environment predictors of psychopathology, yet such research on predictors of resilience is sparse. OBJECTIVES We examined the role of positive factors in childhood family environment (CFE) and the OXTR rs53576 genotype in predicting levels of adult resilient coping and positive affect. We also examined whether the relationship between positive factors in the CFEs and adult resilient coping and positive affect varied across OXTR rs53576 genotype. METHODS We gathered self-report data on childhood environment, trauma history, and adult resilience and positive affect in a sample of 971 African American adults. RESULTS We found that positive CFE was positively associated with higher levels of resilient coping and positive affect in adulthood after controlling for childhood maltreatment, other trauma, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. We did not find a direct effect of OXTR 53576 on a combined resilient coping/positive-affect-dependent variable, but we did find an interaction of OXTR rs53576 with family environment. CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that even in the face of adversity, positive aspects of the family environment may contribute to resilience. These results highlight the importance of considering protective developmental experiences and the interaction of such experiences with genetic variants in risk and resilience research.