The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene moderates the association between emotional behavior and changes in marital satisfaction over time

Claudia M. Haase, Laura R. Saslow, Lian Bloch, Sarina R. Saturn, James J. Casey, Benjamin H. Seider, Jessica Lane, Giovanni Coppola, Robert W. Levenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why do some individuals become dissatisfied with their marriages when levels of negative emotion are high and levels of positive emotions are low, whereas others remain unaffected? Using data from a 13-year longitudinal study of middle-aged and older adults in long-term marriages, we examined whether the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene moderates the association between negative and positive emotional behavior (objectively measured during marital conflict) and changes in marital satisfaction over time. For individuals with two short alleles of 5-HTTLPR, higher negative and lower positive emotional behavior at Time 1 predicted declines in marital satisfaction over time (even after controlling for depression and other covariates). For individuals with one or two long alleles, emotional behavior did not predict changes in marital satisfaction. We also found evidence for a crossover interaction (individuals with two short alleles of 5-HTTLPR and low levels of negative or high levels of positive emotion had the highest levels of marital satisfaction). 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1068-1079
Number of pages12
JournalEmotion
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • 5-HTTLPR
  • Emotional behavior
  • Genetic polymorphisms
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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    Haase, C. M., Saslow, L. R., Bloch, L., Saturn, S. R., Casey, J. J., Seider, B. H., Lane, J., Coppola, G., & Levenson, R. W. (2013). The 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene moderates the association between emotional behavior and changes in marital satisfaction over time. Emotion, 13(6), 1068-1079. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033761