More evidence for Women of genetic happiness as described in the book “Happiness Genes”

A gene that seems to make females happy, but not males, has been identified by researchers at the University of South Florida, Columbia University, and the New York State Psychiatry Institute. Their study has been published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. The authors describe it as the first  happiness gene for women.

The scientists explained that the low-expression of the gene MAOA (monoamine oxidase A) is linked to higher levels of happiness in adult females.

The MAOA gene targets the enzyme that breaks down the same neurotransmitters that many antidepressants target, namely serotonin and dopamine (plus some others). Serotonin and dopamine are sometimes called “feel good” chemicals.

The low-expression version of the monoamine oxidase A gene encourages elevated levels of monoamine, which results in higher quantities of neurotransmitters remaining in the brain; this improves mood. They found that women with the low-expression type of MAOA were much happier than women with no such copies. Women with one copy scored higher, and those with two copies higher still.

Why does this happiness gene affect women but not men? Women have much lower testosterone levels than men. Possibly, higher testosterone levels found in men neutralize the happiness effects of MAOA, Chen and team suggest.

Previous studies have shown that genetic factors are probably responsible for between 35% and 50% of the variations in people’s happiness. It is important to pursue further studies to find out which specific genes impact on resilience and subjective well-being,