What can 973 sets of twins tell us about happiness? In the study “Happiness Is a Personal(ity) Thing,” published in Psychological Science, 973 twins were studied to find that happiness is 50% influenced by our genetics and personality.
Happiness has been considered a combination of personality traits for many decades. Yet researchers were unable to find the missing link between genes, personality and well-being. Since twins share genes they should, in theory, share the genes and personality traits which relate to happiness.
To begin, identical twins were separated from fraternal twins. This allowed researchers to focus on exact gene(s) and personality trait(s). Then the twins completed a 25-survey questioner focusing on the personality traits Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.
From there, they were asked three questions. The first question was how happy they are with their present life, second was how much control they felt they have over their lives and third was how satisfied they felt with their overall life.
The results showed that identical twins share more personality traits with each other then fraternal twins. Additionally, identical twins have more genes in common than fraternal twins.
This allowed researchers to pin point the specific personality trait(s) and gene(s) that produce happiness. Some of the personality traits found to increase happiness were being outgoing, active, curious, empathetic and creative.
However other factors such as: political and economic factors, health, social-relationships, environment, plus life events can play a role—each factor can make dominate or dormant the gene(s) related to happiness.
Happiness is often associated with personality. Though after studying 973 sets of twins, happiness was linked to personality by common genes.
Alexander Weiss, Timothy C. Bates, and Michelle Luciano, “Happiness Is a Personal(ity) Thing The Genetics of Personality and Well-Being in a Representative Sample,” Psychological Science 2008 19: 205 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02068.x (accessed May 5, 2009).