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Happy Genes

A researcher from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam tells CNBC that she has linked nearly two dozen sites in the human genome to happiness.

In a study published last year in Nature Genetics, VU's Meike Bartels and her colleagues uncovered in a cohort of more than 300,000 people, three variants linked to subjective well-being, two variants associated with symptoms of depression, and 11 variants linked to neuroticism. Subjective well being was gauged by survey questions asking about life satisfaction, positive affect, and happiness.

Bartels now tells CNBC that that list of variants linked to happiness has grown to 20 as she and her colleagues expanded their cohort size. She notes, though, that the environment plays a large role in happiness and that she's exploring how external factors and genetic ones interplay.

"My main aim is to get a better hold of the environment. We think we know a lot about the environment but we do not. Most environmental factors are genetically influenced," Bartels tells CNBC. 

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