Molecular genetics and subjective well-being

Cornelius A. Rietveld, David Cesarini, Daniel J. Benjamin, Philipp D. Koellinger, Jan Emmanuel De Neve, Henning Tiemeier, Magnus Johannesson, Patrik K.E. Magnusson, Nancy L. Pedersen, Robert F. Krueger, Meike Bartels

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Subjective well-being (SWB) is a major topic of research across the social sciences. Twin and family studies have found that genetic factors may account for as much as 30-40% of the variance in SWB. Here, we study genetic contributions to SWB in a pooled sample of ≈11,500 unrelated, comprehensively-genotyped Swedish and Dutch individuals. We apply a recently developed method to estimate "common narrow heritability": the fraction of variance in SWB that can be explained by the cumulative additive effects of genetic polymorphisms that are common in the population. Our estimates are 5-10% for single-question survey measures of SWB, and 12-18% after correction for measurement error in the SWB measures. Our results suggest guarded optimism about the prospects of using genetic data in SWB research because, although the common narrow heritability is not large, the polymorphisms that contribute to it could feasibly be discovered with a sufficiently large sample of individuals.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)9692-9697
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number24
    StatePublished - Jun 11 2013


    • GCTA
    • GREML
    • Happiness

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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