Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mood and Experience: Life Comes At You

29.06.2011
Living through weddings or divorces, job losses and children’s triumphs, we sometimes feel better and sometimes feel worse. But, psychologists observe, we tend to drift back to a “set point”—a stable resting point, or baseline, in the mind’s level of contentment or unease.

Research has shown that the set points for depression and anxiety are particularly stable over time. Why?

“The overwhelming view within psychiatry and psychology is that is due to genetic factors,” says Virginia Commonwealth University psychiatrist Kenneth S. Kendler. “Yet we know that extreme environmental adversities, such as abuse in childhood or wartime trauma, have a long-term impact on people.” Kendler had a hunch that environmental experiences also influence the set points for anxiety and depression.

His new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, concludes that they do. Kendler and an international roster of collaborators—VCU colleagues Lindon J. Eaves, Erik K. Loken, Judy Silberg, and Charles O. Gardner; Nancy L. Pedersen and Paul Lichtenstein of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden; Christel M. Middeldorp and Dorret Boomsma of VU University, Amsterdam; and Chandra Reynolds of the University of California—find that life experiences play a central role in establishing the set points for anxiety and depression, perhaps even more than genes do.

Kendler used a group of research subjects time-honored for testing the effects of nature and nurture: identical twins, whose genes are the same, but whose life stories diverge, showing the effects of environmental factors on a developing person.

Scouring the world, he gathered a large and varied sample: nine data sets from longitudinal twin studies—a total of more than 12,000 twins, including 4,235 pairs and 3,678 unpaired twins, from three continents. The twins had all completed reports of their own symptoms of anxiety and depression, three times in eight of the studies; twice in the ninth. Each study covered five or six years. The youngest subjects were just under 11, the oldest almost 67.

Patching together a composite of these life segments—from pre-pubescence to early adulthood, middle age to retirement age—VCU’s Charles Gardner designed a series of statistical analyses, which yielded a clear curve. The set points of the 10-year-old pairs were the same or closely similar. As the twins moved through adolescence and adulthood, however, those points diverged increasingly, until the differences leveled out at around age 60.

The set points were stable—they didn’t wander all over the place—though not permanent; they weren’t necessarily the same for 50 years. But in examining the difference between those points in pairs of genetically identical people, the researchers saw that while genes may play a part in determining our emotional predilections, it is life that shows our moods the place they want to settle.

The study has implications beyond anxiety and depression, says Kendler. “Environmental experiences have a memory and stay with us. What governs the emotional set point of adults is a mixture of genetic factors and the total aggregate of environmental experiences.” The moral of the story? “If you want to be happy in old age, live a good life.”

For more information about this study, please contact: Kenneth Kendler at kendler@vcu.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The Impact of Environmental Experiences across the Lifespan On Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>