Genes matter for happiness
Can genes contribute to wellbeing and happiness? Yes, according to a new study. About one third of the variation in individual's baseline levels of happiness is explained by genes, say researchers from the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) .
"Our results suggest that genetic factors significantly influence individual subjective wellbeing," says Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, CEP Research Associate. "Moreover, using two independent data sources, we find that one particular gene – SLC6A4 – is positively associated with significantly higher levels of life satisfaction."
These results are the first to identify a specific gene that is associated with happiness. Researchers stress, however, that genetic factors complement, rather than substitute for, the influence of socio-demographic, economic and cultural variables on life satisfaction.
"Future work could attempt to identify other genes or gene-environment interactions that are implicated in subjective wellbeing," Dr De Neve states. "While the SLC6A4 gene may explain a significant portion of the variation in happiness, it is important to re-emphasise that there is no single 'happiness gene'. Rather, there is likely to be a set of genes whose expression, in combination with environmental factors, influences how happy people feel."