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Genetics of Psychological Well-BeingThe role of heritability and genetics in positive psychology$
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Michael Pluess

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686674

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686674.001.0001

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The heritability of subjective well-being: review and meta-analysis

The heritability of subjective well-being: review and meta-analysis

(p.75) Chapter 5 The heritability of subjective well-being: review and meta-analysis
Genetics of Psychological Well-Being

Ragnhild Bang Nes

Espen Røysamb

Oxford University Press

Why do people differ in their happiness and well-being? Over the last decade, behavior geneticists have tried to resolve whether variation in happiness is a family matter, or a matter of circumstances. By means of quantitative genetic research—usually classical twin studies—the variation in happiness measured as subjective well-being (SWB) or life satisfaction has been decomposed into genetic (i.e., heritability), shared, and non-shared environmental sources. This chapter first reviews quantitative genetic findings on SWB and life satisfaction. To assess the influence of genetic factors (heritability) across studies, the findings are evaluated in a meta-analysis. The weighted average heritability across 13 independent studies including more than 30,000 twins (aged 12–88) from seven different countries was estimated to .40 (CI: .37–.42). Of note, the heritability estimates deviated significantly across studies, indicating variability in heritability across populations and/or constructs, with 70% of the variability seemingly resulting from heterogeneity.

Keywords:   subjective well-being, life satisfaction, heritability, twin studies, behavior genetics, quantitative genetics, meta-analysis

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