“The British do not expect happiness,” claimed English writer Quentin Crisp – and it appears he may have been right.
New research from the University of Warwick has indicated that Britons are genetically programmed to be grumpy.
The British, French and Americans are all predisposed to be grumpier than nations such as Denmark because they possess a “short form” version of the gene which regulates the amount of serotonin – the chemical which controls happiness – within the brain.
The Danes, who regularly top happiness surveys of nations, enjoy a longer form of the gene, while Britons and Americans, despite equally stable economies and governments, possess a shorter version resulting in a miserable attitude.
However, it could be worse: we could be French.
According to professor Andrew Oswald, who led the research looking at 131 countries, only the French had a shorter form of the gene.
Professor Oswald, who studies applied economics and quantitative social science, claimed many nations’ citizens would still be unhappy were they earning a fortune, living to a ripe old age and basking in the sunshine daily.
“Among the nations we studied, Denmark and the Netherlands appeared to have the lowest percentage of people with the short version of the serotonin gene,” he said to The Times.
He also claimed American individuals descended from Danish or Dutch immigrants were happier as a result of inheriting the longer gene.
The research, for the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Sciences, found that genetics was the most important factor – but not the only one.
Happiness leagues generally use indicators such as educational standards, wealth, health, economic progress and job satisfaction alongside the weather, war and political stability.