A study looks at how much of our happiness can be attributed to our genes?
Neither socioeconomic status, educational attainment, family income, marital status, nor an indicant of religious commitment could account for more than about 3% of the variance in well-being (WB). From 44% to 52% of the variance in WB, however, is associated with genetic variation. Based on the retest of smaller samples of twins after intervals of 4, 5 and 10 years, we estimate that the heritability of the stable component of subjective well-being approaches 80%.
This high percentage was quite surprising, seemingly not leaving much ‘space’ for the other determinants of happiness to make much difference.
The study begins with:
Are those people who go to work in suits happier and more fulfilled than those who go in overalls? Do people higher on the socioeconomic ladder enjoy life more than those lower down? Can money buy happiness? As a consequence of racism and relative poverty, are black Americans less contented on average than white Americans? Because men still hold the reins of power, are men happier than women? [This study] indicated that the answer to these questions, surprisingly, is “no”. [The] authors pointed out that people have a remarkable ability to adapt, both to bad fortune and to good, so that one’s life circumstances, unless they are very bad indeed, do not seem to have lasting effects on one’s mood.