主 题：A molecular perspective in experimental economics and the social sciences: 2008-2018
主讲人：新加坡国立大学 Richard Ebstein教授
地 点：利记娱乐网柳林校区 格致楼918
主办单位：中国行为经济与行为金融研究中心 经济学院 科研处
In 2008, I published the first article bringing together molecular biology and experimental economics in Gene, Brain and Behavior. It shows an association between altruistic giving behavior in the Dictator Game (DG) and a receptor for the nonapeptide hormone vasopressin, AVPR1a, implicated in an earlier study showing its relation to the degree of prosociality in two variants of voles – prairie voles versus meadow voles. Since then, Professor Chew Soo Hong and I have collaborated in founding a group dedicated to bringing molecular biology to research in behavioral and experimental economics, focusing on the role of the genome in contributing to individual differences in decision making both individual and social. In altruistic giving, we have implicated a second human social hormone receptor, oxytocin (OXTR). Using the Andreoni and Miller version of the DG, we discover that the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) shapes altruistic giving along with other-regarding behavior in conjunction with social efficiency considerations. The latter results support the vantage sensitivity hypothesis regarding DRD4 that the “susceptibility” genotype is more responsive to a positive environment provided by some religions underscoring the importance of gene x environmental interactions.
Beyond association studies, we have examined gene expression using peripheral tissues including saliva and blood. Why some individuals seek social engagement while others shy away has profound implications for normal and pathological human behavior. Evidence suggests that oxytocin (OT) and CD38 that governs OT release contribute to individual differences in social skills from intense social involvement to extreme avoidance that characterizes autism. We examine CD38 and CD157 (a paralogue of CD38) gene expression in saliva and show a relationship between a questionnaire-elicited friendship score and the number of real-life friends with the expression of genes related to OT release. In our ongoing research, we find associations among oxytocin and dopamine related genes, IQ, and personality with creative thinking in university students, measured using the Alternatives Uses Test and Insight Problem Solving.
In several related studies, we examine the role of telomeres, an index of aging at the cellular level, in delayed discounting, successful aging, and trait mindfulness. We observe that steeper delay discounting, indexing higher degree of impatience, is negatively associated with leukocyte telomere length (LTL). The relationship is robust after controlling for health-related variables, as well as risk attitude. We find that LTL in females is more sensitive to impatience than in males. In a second study, we observe an association among trait mindfulness, self-compassion, and LTL in Han Chinese. Finally, in a third study we show a relationship between successful aging, cognitive function, socioeconomic status, and LTL.
Over the past decade, we have applied a range of molecular strategies to seek a deeper understanding of findings in behavioral and experimental economics and finance. Our pursuits have opened fresh vistas of research and hold promise in contributing to a consilience among diverse synergistic disciplines. Ultimately, we aim to deliver a science of human decision making at the foundation of research in economics, business, and the social sciences.