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    For years, research studies have focused on the role of internal and external factors in well-being. But now, researchers are investigating the role of an intrinsic factor that lies deep within us: our genes!

    Psychology and Genetics
    Even before, genetic factors have been speculated to have a correlation with psychological matters. To cite an example, positive emotions have been shown to be inheritable to some degree. This would suggest that certain emotions like happiness and sadness can be genetically determined, but this has yet to be proven.

    Nonetheless, the fact that positive emotions can be inheritable means that genetics and personality are closely related and therefore affect well-being. However, this does not mean that genetic factors alone affect a person’s personality or well-being. Of course, the environment still plays a role in the development of a personality. Well-being, especially, is sensitive to major life changes such as marriage and unemployment.

    Genetic variants that may be linked to well-being 
    The role of genetic factors has been understudied in the field of well-being – until this study came along. Published in the reputable Nature Genetics journal, this study has been a joint effort of 190 scientists who analyzed the genomes of 298,420 people. The goal of this study was to find genetic variants that could have an influence on well-being, neuroticism, and depression.

    In their analysis, the researchers found 11 genetic variants that could be linked to neuroticism and two genetic variants for depression. These same genetic variants have also been shown to be linked to subjective well-being. This is not a surprise as subjective well-being, neuroticism, and depression are influenced by the same set of genes.

    But the researchers did not stop there. They wanted to find out if these genetic variants overlap with other variants that influence psychological issues. They have found that these genetic variants that are linked with subjective well-being overlap with variants linked to anxiety disorders. The genetic variants also overlap with the variants associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

    Implications of this study 
    Even though genetic variants linked to subjective well-being has been found, this does not mean a person’s well-being is predetermined. Daniel Benjamin of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences stress that the environment is equally important as a person’s genetics.

    “Genetics is only one factor that influences these psychological traits. The environment is at least as important, and it interacts with the genetic effects,” he says. The development of depression, neuroticism, and poor well-being still depends on an individual’s free actions. Even if a person has genes that are linked to poor well-being, this can still be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. 

    In addition, this study is just one of the first to broach the topic of genetics related to well-being. More research studies on genes and their correlation with subjective well-being must be done before drawing any conclusions. For now, the researchers of this study highly encourage other researchers to delve into this topic of study.

    What do you think of this study?


    Contributed by: Allison Julianne Macasaet, a freelance writer on the side, a student of international relations on the other. Interests include fantasy books, international relations, and lifestyle.