Scientists unlock genetic secret to happiness
Published 06/05/2011 | 05:00
Scientists have identified the 5-HTT strand of DNA as the "happiness gene".
The gene helps nerve cells recycle the chemical serotonin, which is known to be linked to mood and depression.
It comes in "long" and "short" versions. Individuals who inherit two copies of the "long" variant, one from each parent, tend to be more content than those with other combinations, the study showed.
The least happy were people born with two versions of the "short" gene.
Behavioural economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, who led the research, said: "It has long been suspected that this gene plays a role in mental health but this is the first study to show that it is instrumental in shaping our individual happiness levels.
"The results of our study suggest a strong link between happiness and this functional variation in the 5-HTT gene. Of course, our wellbeing 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."
The research is reported in the 'Journal of Human Genetics'. The scientists analysed genetic data from more than 2,500 participants.
"Finding this gene helps to explain why some people tend to be naturally happier than others," Mr De Neve added.