Genome-wide analyses of empathy and systemizing:
heritability and correlates with sex, education, and psychiatric risk

Varun Warrier, Roberto Toro, Bhismadev Chakrabarti, Nadia Litterman, David A. Hinds, Thomas Bourgeron and Simon Baron-Cohen

We conducted genome-wide association studies of empathy and systemizing using the Empathy Quotient (EQ) (n=46,861) and the Systemizing Quotient-Revised (SQ-R) (n=51,564) in participants from 23andMe, Inc. and identified highly significant heritability explained by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for both traits (EQ: 0.11±0.014; P=1.7×10-14 and SQ-R: 0.12±0.012; P=1.2×10-20). We confirmed significant sex-differences in performance on both tasks, with a male advantage on the SQ-R and female advantage on the EQ, but did not identify a difference in SNP heritabilities between the sexes for them. Finally, we identified significant genetic correlations between risk for schizophrenia and high score for empathy (PFDR adjusted=2.9×10-4), and correlations between educational attainment and high score for systemizing (PFDR adjusted=2.9×10-4).

Empathy ♀
Empathy ♂
Systemizing ♀
Systemizing ♂
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