Scientific study of twins shows forgiveness has genetic component

October 13, 2003

A new scientific study of twins shows that forgiveness and vengefulness are partly genetic, whereas spirituality is shaped by the family environment. According to the study, aspects of adolescent spirituality and behavior were studied in a population-based sample of 2,224 school-age twins and 2,844 mothers of twins.

Twin correlations revealed that forgiveness and vengefulness are partly genetic, whereas spirituality is shaped by the family environment. Forgiveness is better understood in relation to pro-social behavior than religion.

Study was conducted by Lindon Eaves (NIH/NIMH, Virginia Commonwealth University) the second most cited geneticist in the world.

The study will be presented at a conference, Scientific Findings on Forgiveness Research, in Atlanta October 24-25 at the Westin, Peachtree Plaza Hotel.

A study of genetic and social influence in twins:

Forgiveness and vengefulness in the context of adolescent religious and behavioral development: A twin study of genetic and social influence.

Learning goals:

1. To illustrate how twin studies can elucidate the roles of genetic and social factors in human development.

2. To provide the first estimates of the contributions, from the North Carolina juvenile twin study, of genetic and environmental influences to the development of forgiveness in adolescence.

3. To show how forgiving behavior in adolescence relates to individual and family religious values and other aspects of social and anti-social behavior.

Over 40 of the top scientists in the world who study forgiveness are reporting on their research at the conference. The scientific presentations include the power of forgiving as it affects marriages, health, women, Blacks, religion, businesses, relationships, criminals and victims, substance abusers, and others. The first study to examine brain imaging when making judgments about forgiveness is also presented. See the website press room for a full listing of abstracts at www.forgiving.org

For complimentary registration information for journalists or to arrange interviews, please visit our website or contact Vicki Robb at 703-329-3356.

Keynote speakers include Martin Luther King III, civil rights activist and head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Martin Seligman, past president of the American Psychological Association; and Les Parrott, relationship expert and author of Love the Life You Live.

The conference is hosted by A Campaign for Forgiveness Research, a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating research for personal health, maintaining relationships, peace among nations and biological connections with primates. The research is funded by grants from the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute and donations to the Campaign from individuals and family foundations. The Campaign is directed by Everett L. Worthington, Jr. Professor and Chair of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and author of "Five Steps to Forgiveness" (Crown Publishers).
-end-
Vicki Robb, 703-329-3356
Louisa Mattozzi, 703-476-0742
www.forgiving.org

John Templeton Foundation

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