Polymorphisms of the OXTR Gene to explain why sales professionals love to help customers

W. Verbeke, R.P. Bagozzi, W.E. van den Berg, A. Lemmens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Polymorphisms of the OXTR gene affect people’s social interaction styles in various social encounters: carriers of the OXTR GG, compared to the OXTR AA/AG in general, are more motivated to interact socially and detect social salience. We focus on sales professionals operating in knowledge intensive organizations. Study 1, with a sample of 141 sales people, shows that carriers of the OXTR GG allele, compared to the OXTR AA/AG allele, are more motivated to help customers than to manipulatively impose goods/services on them. Study 2, using genomic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a sample of 21 sales professionals processing facial pictures with different emotional valences, investigates key nuclei of social brain regions (SBRs). Compared to OXTR AA/AG carriers, OXTR GG carriers experience greater effective connectivity between SBRs of interest measured by Granger causality tests using univariate Haugh tests. In addition, the multivariate El-Himdi and Roy tests demonstrate that the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and pars opercularis (inferior frontal gyrus) play key roles when processing emotional expressions. The bilateral amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex show significantly greater clout – influence on other brain regions – for GG allele carriers than noncarriers; likewise, the bilateral pars opercularis, left amygdala, and left medial prefrontal cortex are more receptive to activity in other brain regions among GG allele carriers than AG/AA allele carriers are. Thus, carriers of the OXTR GG allele are more sensitive to changes in emotional cues, enhancing social salience. To our knowledge, this is the first study on how insights from imaging genetics help understanding of the social motivation of people operating in a professional setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number171
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Early online date27 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Oxytocin
  • OXTR
  • sales professionals
  • genomic imaging
  • social salience
  • connectivity
  • translational implications
  • Granger causality


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