For the first time, locations on the human genome have been identified that can explain differences in meaning in life between individuals. This is the result of research conducted in over 220,000 individuals by Professor Meike Bartels and PhD student Bart Baselmans from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The researchers identified two genetic variants for meaning in life and six genetic variants for happiness. The results were published this week in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.
The fact that genetic variants for a meaning in life have been found indicates that everyone is different and that differences between people in complex processes such as a meaning in life are in part due to biological differences. VU professor Meike Bartels: “We live in a society where everyone is expected to thrive, achieve the highest, and live a meaningful life. If we have a better idea of the causes of differences between people, we can use that information to help people who feel less happy or struggle with the meaning of life. We also find that there are environmental factors that are important for happiness, but not for meaning and vice versa. In the future we would like to identify which environmental factors are responsible for this discrepancy.”
Previous research has shown that individual differences in happiness and well-being can partly be attributed to genetic differences between people. Furthermore, the first genetic variants for happiness were found a few years ago. Baselmans: “These results show that genetic differences between people not only play a role in differences in happiness, but also in differences for in meaning in life. By a meaning in life, we mean the search for meaning or purpose of life.” Paper. (open access) – B. M. L. Baselmans, M. Bartels. A genetic perspective on the relationship between eudaimonic –and hedonic well-being. Scientific Reports, 2018; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-32638-1s More.
As if terms like “happiness” or “meaning or purpose of life” had a fixed meaning like hemophilia or Klinefelter syndrome.
See also: Why genetic determinism can’t simply be disproven It is a mindset, an attitude to life and to people: In popular culture, the thought is expressed as “It’s not me, it’s my genes.” Among our betters, couched in bureaucratic terms, the thought is “You’re right and we could do with fewer genes like yours.”