Learn how your genes can influence your level of empathy. Studies have shown that two genes influence the trait of empathy: OXTR and BDNF. OXTR codes for oxytocin receptors and thus determines receptivity to the oxytocin hormone; this hormone is related to activities involving things like maternal behavior and social bonding. Variation in the BDNF gene, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, influences reactivity to emotional stimuli, which is closely related to the trait of empathy.