People who have a more efficient variant of a gene that regulates serotonin are likely to be happier, according to new research.
It's the first time researchers have shown a direct link between an individual's happiness level and a particular genetic makeup.
For purposes of this research, happiness levels were measured according to a person's feelings of overall satisfaction with life. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Human Genetics.
Behavioural economist, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, of the London School of Economics and Political Science, led the research. The team analyzed data from over 2,500 people who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, taking note of whether each possessed the more efficient or less efficient functional version of the 5-HTT gene.
It is the 5-HTT gene, which we inherit from both parents, that supplies the operating code for the serotonin transporters in the neuron cell walls. The more efficient version results in increased serotonin transporters.
See: 20 Amazing Facts About Happiness
Researchers asked study participants to rate their satisfaction with life. Their answers revealed that people with the more efficient gene variation were more likely to be satisfied with their lives, with 35 percent responding that they were very satisfied and 34 percent saying they were satisfied. Among those with the less efficient gene, only 19 percent fell into those categories.
Twenty-six percent of people with the less efficient gene reported being dissatisfied, compared to 20 percent of those with the more efficient gene version
Although researchers have long suspected genes as playing a part in our mental wellbeing, DeNeve says this study shows that our genes are instrumental in carving out individual levels of happiness. “Of course, our well-being isn’t determined by this one gene – other genes and especially experience throughout the course of life will continue to explain the majority of variation in individual happiness. But this finding helps to explain why we each have a unique baseline level of happiness and why some people tend to be naturally happier than others, and that’s in no small part due to our individual genetic make-up.”
Reference: The London School of Economics and Political Science, New study is first to identify a "happiness gene"
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