Personality polygenes, positive affect, and life satisfaction

Alexander Weiss, Bart M.L. Baselmans, Edith Hofer, Jingyun Yang, Aysu Okbay, Penelope A. Lind, Mike B. Miller, Ilja M. Nolte, Wei Zhao, Saskia P. Hagenaars, Jouke Jan Hottenga, Lindsay K. Matteson, Harold Snieder, Jessica D. Faul, Catharina A. Hartman, Patricia A. Boyle, Henning Tiemeier, Miriam A. Mosing, Alison Pattie, Gail DaviesDavid C. Liewald, Reinhold Schmidt, Philip L. De Jager, Andrew C. Heath, Markus Jokela, John M. Starr, Albertine J. Oldehinkel, Magnus Johannesson, David Cesarini, Albert Hofman, Sarah E. Harris, Jennifer A. Smith, Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Helena Schmidt, Jacqui Smith, William G. Iacono, Matt McGue, David A. Bennett, Nancy L. Pedersen, Patrik K.E. Magnusson, Ian J. Deary, Nicholas G. Martin, Dorret I. Boomsma, Meike Bartels, Michelle Luciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Approximately half of the variation in wellbeing measures overlaps with variation in personality traits. Studies of non-human primate pedigrees and human twins suggest that this is due to common genetic influences. We tested whether personality polygenic scores for the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) domains and for item response theory (IRT) derived extraversion and neuroticism scores predict variance in wellbeing measures. Polygenic scores were based on published genome-wide association (GWA) results in over 17,000 individuals for the NEO-FFI and in over 63,000 for the IRT extraversion and neuroticism traits. The NEO-FFI polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction in 7 cohorts, positive affect in 12 cohorts, and general wellbeing in 1 cohort (maximal N = 46,508). Meta-analysis of these results showed no significant association between NEO-FFI personality polygenic scores and the wellbeing measures. IRT extraversion and neuroticism polygenic scores were used to predict life satisfaction and positive affect in almost 37,000 individuals from UK Biobank. Significant positive associations (effect sizes <0.05%) were observed between the extraversion polygenic score and wellbeing measures, and a negative association was observed between the polygenic neuroticism score and life satisfaction. Furthermore, using GWA data, genetic correlations of -0.49 and -0.55 were estimated between neuroticism with life satisfaction and positive affect, respectively. The moderate genetic correlation between neuroticism and wellbeing is in line with twin research showing that genetic influences on wellbeing are also shared with other independent personality domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-417
Number of pages11
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • genetic correlation
  • genetics
  • happiness
  • polygenic prediction
  • wellbeing


Dive into the research topics of 'Personality polygenes, positive affect, and life satisfaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this