Genes hold the key to how happy we are, scientists say

Mar 04, 2008

Happiness in life is as much down to having the right genetic mix as it is to personal circumstances according to a recent study.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh working with researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that happiness is partly determined by personality traits and that both personality and happiness are largely hereditary.

Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier. They suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen, according to the study published inthe March issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The researchers used personality and happiness data on more than 900 twin pairs. They identified evidence for common genes which result in certain personality traits and predispose people to happiness.

The findings suggest that those lucky enough to have the right inherited personality mix have an ‘affective reserve’ of happiness which can be called upon in stressful times or in times of recovery.

The researchers say that although happiness has its roots in our genes, around 50 per cent of the differences between people in their life happiness is still down to external factors such as relationships, health and careers.

Dr Alexander Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, who led the research said: “Together with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a core human desire. Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Explore further: Giving emotions to virtual characters

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Danish DNA could be key to happiness

Jul 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Economists at the University's Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) have looked at why certain countries top the world happiness rankings. In particular they have found the closer a ...

How unhappy cities attract new residents

Jul 16, 2014

Urban demographic patterns in the United States often defy logic, but a new research paper co-authored by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Edward Glaeser is shedding light on why many Americans continue to ...

Your next Angry Birds opponent could be a robot

Jul 10, 2014

With the help of a smart tablet and Angry Birds, children can now do something typically reserved for engineers and computer scientists: program a robot to learn new skills. The Georgia Institute of Technology ...

Recommended for you

Giving emotions to virtual characters

12 hours ago

Researchers at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) were able to simulate human facial expressions in virtual characters and use them in order to create better environments within a virtual ...

Emotion-tracking software aims for "mood-aware" internet

13 hours ago

Emotions can be powerful for individuals. But they're also powerful tools for content creators, such as advertisers, marketers, and filmmakers. By tracking people's negative or positive feelings toward ads—via ...

The emotional appeal of stand-up comedy

13 hours ago

Comics taking to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe this week should take note: how much of a hit they are with their audiences won't be down to just their jokes. As Dr Tim Miles from the University of Surrey has discovered, ...

User comments : 0