The development of social behavior could be affected by stressful parenting. The mineralocorticoid receptor, one of the two main receptors for the stress hormone cortisol, plays a vital role in adequate responses to stress. Therefore, the effects of stressful parenting on social development (i.e., empathic concern, perspective taking and prosocial behavior) may be moderated by functional genetic variation in mineralocorticoid receptor haplotypes (a combination of alleles). A group of 343 adolescents (44.3% females) was followed from the age of 13 until 24 years. Growth curve analyses showed lower levels of prosocial behaviors and a slower increase in empathic concern and perspective taking in adolescents who reported more stressful parenting. In contrast, relatively higher levels of prosocial behavior, empathic concern and perspective taking were present in combination with stress resilient mineralocorticoid receptor haplotypes. Despite sex differences in social development with earlier social development for girls, no consistent sex differences were found with regard to mineralocorticoid receptor haplotypes. The current study showed that genetic variation in mineralocorticoid receptor impacts the social development during adolescence and young adulthood.
- Mineralocorticoid Receptor
- Prosocial behavior