Gene that makes you feel optimistic, boosts your self-esteem has been identified by UCLA scientists.
"I have been looking for this gene for a few years, and it is not the gene I expected," said Shelley E. Taylor, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA and senior author of the new research.
"I knew there had to be a gene for these psychological resources."
The gene Taylor and her colleagues identified is the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). Oxytocin is a hormone that increases in response to stress and is associated with good social skills such as empathy and enjoying the company of others.
"This study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to report a gene associated with psychological resources," said lead study author Shimon Saphire-Bernstein, a doctoral student in psychology in Taylor's laboratory.
The researchers brought 326 people into a UCLA laboratory and had them complete self-assessments of optimism, self-esteem and mastery.
Participants also completed an assessment of depression
The researchers obtained DNA from participants' saliva and used UCLA's Genotyping Center to analyze the DNA for the variants in the OXTR gene.
Taylor said that while genes may predict behaviour, they do not determine it.
"This gene is one factor that influences psychological resources and depression, but there is plenty of room for environmental factors as well," Taylor said.
"A supportive childhood, good relationships, friends and even other genes also play a role in the development of psychological resources, and these factors also play a very substantial role in whether people become depressed," she added.
The study will be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.