Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Blame My Mom and Dad: Happiness Is Genetic?

To follow up on yesterday's happiness-across-the-glob post, here's an article summarizing Scottish scientists' recent finding that happiness is as much as 50% based on heredity.

Here's the crux:

The group were able to identify evidence of common genes that result in certain personality traits, which in turn predispose people to happiness.

It is believed that those who inherit the right mix of personality genes build an "affective reserve" of happiness which can be called on in times of stress or act as a buffer when things go wrong.

The researchers found that those who do not excessively worry and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier - and that these traits are as much as 50 per cent controlled by genetics, with external factors such as relationships, health and careers contributing to differences in happiness.

Hmm. I had no idea that sociability and conscientiousness were genetic - really, none at all. Food for thought, really. I'm off to spend the next hour mentally analyzing my parents' happiness, and trying to figure out what kind of traits I've passed on to Dixon (who is, btw, possibly the happiest child in the world.) Here's a connection: if this is true, does it also mean we're genetically predisposed to like or not like certain foods?


eatingplum said...

I believe that! Isn't genetic hereditary?

As for foods though, I think that just changes over time. I didn't appreciate fine food when I was younger, but I do now. I hated nuts as a kid, but now I like them.

eatingplum said...

Oops sorry, I meant to say "Isn't depression hereditary"?

Kit Pollard said...

Actually, when you put it that way, it makes total sense. If depression has a gene, why shouldn't happiness?

With foods, I just think about the fact that I like specific foods that, say, my dad likes, but other people in my family don't. That could be learned, it could be random, or it could possibly have some sort of genetic basis...


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