The gene which manages the flow of serotonin within the brain has been found and labeled as the “happiness gene”. Researchers who take the credit are from the London School of Economics, and sent the full report to the Journal of Human Genetics to be reviewed. This discovery is important as it finally shows that there is an actual connection between a person’s happiness and a genetic resource. In order for researchers to ascertain what happiness really is, they managed to measure people’s level of satisfaction, and thus came to the conclusion that such a gene truly exists.
Jan-Emmanuel de Neve (who is a behavioral economist) and his team collected the genetic data from more than 2,500 persons. Their work is called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. It deals only with the working version of the 5-HTT gene.
The 5-HTT gene is responsible for harboring the necessary carriers of serotonin inside our neuron cell walls. This particular gene has an allele (version) which can be short or can be long. The long one provides a better flow of serotonin while the shorter one cannot deal with the same amount of serotonin within the cell membrane. That’s why the genotype can only be characterized as short-short, short-long, long-long, or long-short. The genetic material is what we inherit from our parents and cannot be changed or altered.
All subjects answered to the following question: “How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?” They had to answer only: “Very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, neither.”
After inquiring the subjects, scientist then compared the genetic data received from them with their answers. There were more people satisfied with their life rather than dissatisfied. The long allele owners were 8.5% more satisfied with their life than the rest. Those who had two long alleles almost doubled that percent.
The results support the discovery and the action of the 5-HTT gene. Scientists will subject the gene to further study.