Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Optimism, spirituality and a sense of meaning in life are all considered to be critical components of an individual’s character. In this chapter, we examine the degree to which these character traits are heritable. We begin by assessing how these three important aspects of a person’s character have been defined within psychological science and cognitive neuroscience. We then provide a comprehensive review of the empirical evidence investigating whether there might be a genetic component in operation in optimism, spirituality, and a sense of meaning in life. We will consider twin studies, genome-wide association studies as well as candidate gene studies. We discover that there are very few studies examining the constructs of optimism, spirituality and meaning in life from a genetic perspective. However, we draw what conclusions we can from this small literature and make some suggestions as to what key studies and directions of research would be optimally informative for the future. Key words: optimism, spirituality, meaning, behavioural-genetics, heritability component.



Book title

Genetics of Psychological Well-Being: The role of heritability and genetics in positive psychology The role of heritability and genetics in positive psychology


OUP Oxford

Publication Date