(HealthDay News) – Individuals with two short alleles of the serotonin transport gene are more sensitive to positive and negative emotional behaviors that affect their marital satisfaction, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Emotion.

Claudia M. Haase, PhD, from the University of California at Berkeley, and colleagues examined the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene, negative and positive emotional behavior, and changes in marital satisfaction over time in 125 middle-aged and older couples whose relationships had been followed since 1989.

The researchers found that those with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles were more sensitive to negative and positive emotional behavior, with more negative emotional behavior predicting decreasing marital satisfaction over time. In contrast, emotional behavior was not associated with changes in marital satisfaction in those with two long alleles.

“These findings provide the first evidence of a specific genetic polymorphism that moderates the association between emotional behavior and changes in marital satisfaction over time and are consistent with increasing evidence that the short allele of this polymorphism serves as a susceptibility factor that amplifies sensitivity to both negative and positive emotional influences,” Haase and colleagues conclude.

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