March 9, 2007 -- Genetics may affect women's anger, hostility, and physical aggression, University of Pittsburgh scientists announced today.
Indrani Halder, PhD, and colleagues studied 550 unrelated women of European descent. The women completed two aggression and hostility questionnaires.
Halder's team also analyzed variations in the women's HTR2C gene. That gene is one of many genes linked to a brain chemical called serotonin.
Past studies have linked high serotonin levels to lower aggression levels, note Halder and colleagues.
The new study shows that women with one alteration in the HTR2C gene were less aggressive, while women with a different alteration in the gene were more physically aggressive. A third alteration in the gene didn't seem to affect aggression or hostility.
The study doesn't prove that those gene mutations made the women more or less angry, aggressive, or hostile than other women. The results don’t provide any information on the women's life experiences, other personality traits, or strategies for handling anger.
The researchers only studied women, so it's not clear if the findings apply to men.
Halder is due to present the findings today in Budapest, Hungary at the American Psychosomatic Society's 65th Annual Scientific Conference.