Optimistic or pessimistic? Depends on your genes
Variations in a mood altering gene influence whether or not people take a pessimistic or optimistic view of the world, new research reveals.
Scientists from the University of Essex found that different versions of the gene, which is involved in the transportation of the wellbeing chemical serotonin, affect whether or not we are drawn to negative or positive aspects of the world.
Researchers came up with the results after showing 97 volunteers pictures depicting positive and negative images. Those with a long version of the gene looked towards positive images, such as sweets and tended to have a ‘sunny disposition’. Those with a shorter version did the opposite, and were prone to looking at negative pictures like spiders.
The psychologists behind the study believe the findings could help develop new treatments for anxiety and depression.
Meanwhile three-quarters of Britons consider themselves optimists, according to a new report. More than 2,000 adults were asked about their views on life in a survey carried out by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC).
A sunny outlook on life can also make you more attractive to the opposite sex with 52% of those polled saying they found optimists more attractive than pessimists. Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of SIRC, said: ‘The image of the British as a rather miserable race contrasts with our findings, showing the majority of Brits have a distinctively upbeat and optimistic outlook on life.’