Or so claims a new study in the Journal of Happiness Studies, by two researchers from the Varna University of Management in Bulgaria, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The researchers believe they have established a link between genetic make-up and how happy certain populations are.
The happier nations are more likely to have within their DNA an allele, the A allele, involved in regulating sensory pleasure and in helping reduce pain.
For instance, the study finds that Arab nations like Iraq and Jordan, which had the lowest prevalence of this allele, were least likely to classify themselves as “very happy”.
The researchers used data from three waves of World Values Survey, in addition to population genetic data from an allele frequency database compiled by a geneticist from Yale, in addition to climate information, history of pathogenic prevalence, plus World Bank economic data on the nations under scrutiny.
The findings heavily factor in genetic data, but recognized from the onset that genetics may not be the only determinant to happiness. Politics, economics, laws governing nations, and disease patterns can affect how happy certain nations are, perhaps prevalence of the A allele in the genes notwithstanding. Testing this however, they conclude that, besides genes, climatic difference is one other thing that can very significantly affect happiness levels, more strongly than any of the other factors.
These measures however are not absolute, the researchers admit.
“We have not shown that a nation’s genetic and climatic heritage doom a particular country to a specific happiness score, but that it can still rise and fall because of situational factors,” says Hong Kong Polytechnic University professor and co-author Michael Bond.