Genes play a greater role in investing you with traits such as self-control, decision-making or sociability than previously thought. A study of more than 800 sets of twins found that genetics were more influential in shaping key traits than a person’s home environment and surroundings. University of Edinburgh psychologists, who carried out the study, say that gene influenced characteristics could well be the key to how successful a person, the Journal of Personality reports.
Timothy Bates, professor at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said the genetic influence was strongest on a person’s sense of self-control, according to an Edinburgh statement. The study of twins in the US — most aged 50 and over — used a series of questions to test how they perceived themselves and others. Questions included “Are you influenced by people with strong opinions?” and “Are you disappointed about your achievements in life?”
The results were then measured according to the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale which assesses and standardises these characteristics. Researchers found that identical twins, with the exact same DNA, were twice as likely to share traits compared with non-identical twins.Psychologists say the findings are significant because the stronger the genetic link, the more likely it is that these character traits are carried through a family. They found that genes affected a person’s sense of purpose, how well they get on with people and their ability to continue learning and developing.
Bates added: “Why do some people seem to manage their lives, have good relationships and cooperate to achieve their goals while others do not? ”Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people’s ideas about what affected psychological well-being. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics.”