Happiness gene determines degree of satisfaction with life

A GENE involved in serotonin transport is being billed by researchers as the ‘happiness gene’.

Scientists analysed US data on serotonin transporter gene 5-HTT copy numbers in 2500 participants who were asked ‘how satisfied with your life are you as a whole?’.

They found that individuals who had two copies of the ‘long’ version of the gene had a 17% increased chance of being very satisfied with life, while having one copy of the long version increased the chance of being very satisfied by 8.5%. The 5-HTT gene product transports serotonin through nerve cell walls, enabling it to be reused.

Lead author Jan-Emmanuel De Neve said this was the first study to show 5-HTT was instrumental in shaping individual happiness levels.

Hum Genet 2011, online 6 May