On the etiology of aesthetic chills: a behavioral genetic study

Bignardi, Giacomo; Chamberlain, Rebecca; Kevenaar, Sofieke T; Tamimy, Zenab and Boomsma, Dorret I. 2022. On the etiology of aesthetic chills: a behavioral genetic study. Scientific Reports, 12, 3247. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Aesthetic chills, broadly defined as a somatic marker of peak emotional-hedonic responses, are experienced by individuals across a variety of human cultures. Yet individuals vary widely in the propensity of feeling them. These individual differences have been studied in relation to demographics, personality, and neurobiological and physiological factors, but no study to date has explored the genetic etiological sources of variation. To partition genetic and environmental sources of variation in the propensity of feeling aesthetic chills, we fitted a biometrical genetic model to data from 14,127 twins (from 8995 pairs), collected by the Netherlands Twin Register. Both genetic and unique environmental factors accounted for variance in aesthetic chills, with heritability estimated at 0.36 ([0.33, 0.39] 95% CI). We found females more prone than males to report feeling aesthetic chills. However, a test for genotype x sex interaction did not show evidence that heritability differs between sexes. We thus show that the propensity of feeling aesthetic chills is not shaped by nurture alone, but it also reflects underlying genetic propensities.

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Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This article was funded by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Jacobs Foundation (Grant no. ZonMw, 31160008) and European Research Council (Grant no. 284167).

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2 February 2022Accepted
28 February 2022Published

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28 Feb 2022 11:12

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28 Feb 2022 11:12

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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