Genes make for a life of success

Genes play a greater role in forming character traits than was previously thought, new research suggests.

A study of more than 800 sets of found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings.

University psychologists, who carried out the study, say that genetically influenced characteristics could well be the key to how successful a person is in life.

"Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people’s ideas about what affected psychological well-being. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics," said Professor Timothy Bates, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

The study of twins in the US - most aged 50 and over- used a series of questions to test how they perceived themselves and others.

Questions included “Are you influenced by people with strong opinions?” and “Are you disappointed about your achievements in life?”

The results were then measured according to the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale, which assesses and standardises these characteristics.

By tracking their answers, the research team found that identical twins - whose DNA is exactly the same - were twice as likely to share traits compared with non-identical twins.

Psychologists say the findings are significant because the stronger the genetic link, the more likely it is that these character traits are carried through a family.

Professor Timothy Bates, of the University’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said that the influence was strongest on a person’s sense of self-control.

Researchers found that genes affected a person’s sense of purpose, how well they get on with people and their ability to continue learning and developing.

"Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people’s ideas about what affected psychological well-being. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics," Professor Bates added.

The study, which builds on previous research that found that happiness is underpinned by , is published online in the Journal of Personality.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research reveals genetic link to human intelligence

Aug 10, 2011

University of Manchester scientists, working with colleagues in Edinburgh and Australia, have provided the first direct biological evidence for a genetic contribution to people’s intelligence.

Recommended for you

Stress reaction may be in your dad's DNA, study finds

Nov 21, 2014

Stress in this generation could mean resilience in the next, a new study suggests. Male mice subjected to unpredictable stressors produced offspring that showed more flexible coping strategies when under ...

More genetic clues found in a severe food allergy

Nov 21, 2014

Scientists have identified four new genes associated with the severe food allergy eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). Because the genes appear to have roles in other allergic diseases and in inflammation, the ...

Brain-dwelling worm in UK man's head sequenced

Nov 20, 2014

For the first time, the genome of a rarely seen tapeworm has been sequenced. The genetic information of this invasive parasite, which lived for four years in a UK resident's brain, offers new opportunities ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.