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J Hum Genet. 2011 Jun;56(6):456-9. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2011.39. Epub 2011 May 12.

Functional polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) in the serotonin transporter gene is associated with subjective well-being: evidence from a US nationally representative sample.

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  • 1Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.


Variation in the promotor region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) is a promising candidate for better understanding individual heterogeneity in subjective well-being or happiness, as measured by life satisfaction. This functional polymorphism has previously been associated with mental health and selective processing of positive and negative emotional stimuli. A case-control association study on a representative sample of Americans (N=2574) finds that individuals with the transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene, report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction (P=0.01). This new finding may help explain the important genetic component of the individual baseline levels of happiness.

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