View Full Version : Serotonin transporter (SERT) gene linked to happiness, optimism and life satisfaction

17-10-11, 09:07
It had been known for a while that how happy people are in equal circumstances was partially hereditary. One of the pioneers in the field was Dr David Lykken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_T._Lykken) of the University of Minnesota, famous for his twin studies and who wrote Happiness: What Studies on Twins Show Us About Nature, Nurture, and the Happiness Set-Point (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/158238004X?ie=UTF8&tag=eupedia-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=158238004X). What we didn't know yet was what gene was involved in this heredity.

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve and his team at the University College London managed to identify the SERT gene (also known as 5-HTT or SLC6A4) and shared their discovery in a
new paper (http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu/genes_economics_and_happiness.pdf) (freely available).

Carriers of the long allele of the 5-HTTLPR (serotonin-transporter-linked polymorphic region) were found to be happier than non-carriers after adjusting for a variety of factors known to influence happiness such as race, gender, marital status, employment status, and so on. Earliest studies had already linked that long allele with optimism.

The frequency of the long allele is highest among Africans and lowest among East Asians, which explains why East Asians have constantly displayed lower happiness levels at equal GDP per capita. Carriers of the short version were also more prone to mood disorders and depression, and is particularly common among the Japanese and Chinese.

The SNP's involved in the long and short versions of 5-HTTLPR are rs25531 (more chance of happiness for each G allele) and rs2020933 (ditto for the A allele). You can check your results if you tested with 23andMe v3 (the 1M SNP's chip). It is not tested by deCODEme nor FTDNA's Family Finder. Apparently rs2020933 is also on the v1 (the original test that cost 998$) of 23andMe but some unfathomable reason was removed from v2 and added again on v3.

=> More SNP's linked to psychological traits (http://www.eupedia.com/europe/psychological_dna_test.shtml)

Mzungu mchagga
17-10-11, 21:42
I wonder if there is an evolutionary advantage having short alleles of the 5-HTTLPR. Or at least I hope there is one, as myself got therapy of serotonin re-absorbtion suppressants for some while... (let's call it Prozac)

18-10-11, 04:29
Here are some more conclusions from the same research. These ones are mostly from environmental factors.

In particular, gender does not
systematically affect happiness. Higher age has a negative, though not statistically significant effect (this is not surprising considering that our sample refers to young adults). African Americans and Asian Americans are systematically less happy than are Whites, while Latinos are somewhat happier, but not in a statistically significant way. Better educated and married individuals report having significantly higher life satisfaction, while divorced people are more unhappy. Having a job strongly raises life satisfaction. This reflects the psychic benefits of being occupied and integrated into society. At the same time it suggests that having an income raises life satisfaction. In contrast, persons on welfare are much less happy than those employed which reflects the psychic costs of unemployment. Religious individuals are significantly more happy than those without religious beliefs. Persons with less good health, as measured by the need to be on medication, are also less happy. As is the case with most research on happiness, these estimates identify correlations, not causality, given the difficulty in disentangling endogeneity. Once again, consistency with previous studies suggests that results using the Add Health data may generalize to other populations and a wider demography in terms of age.

The happiest person on this planet is Latino, healthy, married, educated, with job, going to church. Having long 5-HTTLPR gene will help even more.

Mzungu mchagga
18-10-11, 06:56
The happiest person on this planet is Latino, healthy, married, educated, with job, going to church. Having long 5-HTTLPR gene will help even more.

At least I've got a job :confused2: