Publication Date


Faculty Advisor

Sarina Saturn


College of Arts and Science




This proposal research focuses on the biology underlying prosociality, which centers on emotions and behaviors that benefit others, in mother-baby-grandmother triads. One specific aim will center on how moral elevation, an emotional state generated through witnessing great acts of compassion, is related to caregiving behaviors and variations in the oxytocin system, a hormone important for an array of prosocial behaviors, including social bonding. In addition, the mothers and grandmothers will answer questionnaires to capture other aspects of their experiences. Our main investigation is to show that the emotional state of moral elevation is linked to epigenetic and genetic profiles of the oxytocin receptor gene, autonomic physiology, psychological profiles, behavioral displays, and oxytocin release. Altogether, this multimethod approach will explore the relationship between static (genetic) and dynamic (hormone, epigenetic) oxytocinergic profiles in the context of socioemotional processing influenced by nature and nurture.


Maternal Behavior--Physiology; Mother-child relationship; Oxytocin; Parenting; Physiology of emotion

Publication Information

A Summer Research Celebration Project

© 2016 The Author

Document Type

Student Project

Included in

Psychology Commons