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: Intervention program helps prevent high-school dropouts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is sending shoppers ads by Bluetooth just a bit creepy?

Oct 17, 2014

Using Bluetooth wireless networking to send information to nearby smartphones, beacon technology could transform how retailers engage with their customers. But customers will notice how their information is ...

GoPro gearing up to share more of its users' videos

Oct 10, 2014

For years, thrill seekers have worn GoPro video cameras to capture hair-raising skydiving, motorcycle racing and snowboarding footage from a first-person point of view. They've documented up-close and personal encounters ...

SHORE facial analysis spots emotions on Google Glass

Aug 28, 2014

One of the key concerns about facial recognition software has been over privacy. The very idea of having tracking mechanisms as part of an Internet-connected wearable would be likely to upset many privacy ...

Recommended for you

Intervention program helps prevent high-school dropouts

17 hours ago

New research findings from a team of prevention scientists at Arizona State University demonstrates that a family-focused intervention program for middle-school Mexican American children leads to fewer drop-out rates and ...

Bilingualism over the lifespan

19 hours ago

It's a scene that plays out every day in Montreal. On the bus, in schools, in the office and at home, conversations weave seamlessly back and forth between French and English, or one of the many other languages represented ...

User comments : 0