Date of Completion

Winter 12-15-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Theodore Rasmussen

Honors Major

Biological Sciences

Second Honors Major



Biology | Sociology


This thesis project explores the genetic underpinnings of one of the most cherished attributes in the world, well-being.1 Specifically, it attempts to understand the influence of the genome on subjective, or experienced, well-being. An investigation was conducted into current literature concerning both the structure of measurement devices of well-being as well as association studies to determine the scope of the correlation that exists between the genome and well-being and identify genetic findings of interest. Ultimately, being able to provide evidence of causality between the genome and sense of well-being at this iteration of well-being and genome research is limited, however, the correlations detailed in this work suggest overwhelmingly that genetics plays a significant role in the development of our sense of subjective well-being. It also suggests that the key to better understanding subjective well-being may be more concrete and lie, to some degree, in genetic expression. This presents a path forward that can be utilized in the foreseeable future to the advantage of optimizing public policy and in improving quality of life in populations, as well as presents another avenue by which epigenetic research can be utilized to modulate quality of life at an individual level. However, in order for such avenues to be explored, current measures of well-being must be expanded and improved. Thus, this work also presents an argument for making the measure of well-being a metric of importance that is comparable to that of GDP or GNP and utilizing the advent of biotechnological monitoring to collect real-time data on this topic to create the infrastructure necessary to develop a greater understanding of subjective well-being.