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Heritability and Genome-Wide Linkage Scan of Subjective Happiness

  • Meike Bartels (a1), Viatcheslav Saviouk (a2), Marleen H. M. de Moor (a3), Gonneke Willemsen (a4), Toos C. E. M. van Beijsterveldt (a5), Jouke-Jan Hottenga (a6), Eco J. C. de Geus (a7) and Dorret I. Boomsma (a8)...

Causes of individual differences in happiness, as assessed with the Subjective Happiness Scale, are investigated in a large of sample twins and siblings from the Netherlands Twin Register. Over 12,000 twins and siblings, average age 24.7 years (range 12 to 88), took part in the study. A genetic model with an age by sex design was fitted to the data with structural equation modeling in Mx. The heritability of happiness was estimated at 22% for males and 41% in females. No effect of age was observed. To identify the genomic regions contributing to this heritability, a genome-wide linkage study for happiness was conducted in sibling pairs. A subsample of 1157 offspring from 441 families was genotyped with an average of 371 micro-satellite markers per individual. Phenotype and genotype data were analyzed in MERLIN with multipoint variance component linkage analysis and age and sex as covariates. A linkage signal (logarithm of odds score 2.73, empirical p value 0.095) was obtained at the end of the long arm of chromosome 19 for marker D19S254 at 110 cM. A second suggestive linkage peak was found at the short arm of chromosome 1 (LOD of 2.37) at 153 cM, marker D1S534 (empirical p value of .209). These two regions of interest are not overlapping with the regions found for contrasting phenotypes (such as depression, which is negatively associated with happiness). Further linkage and future association studies are warranted.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Meike Bartels, PhD, Department of Biological Psychology, room 2B-47, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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Twin Research and Human Genetics
  • ISSN: 1832-4274
  • EISSN: 1839-2628
  • URL: /core/journals/twin-research-and-human-genetics
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