The association between well-being and the COMT gene: Dispositional gratitude and forgiveness as mediators

J Affect Disord. 2017 May;214:115-121. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.03.005. Epub 2017 Mar 7.


Backround: Previous studies have demonstrated the contributions of genetic variants and positive psychological traits (e.g. gratitude and forgiveness) to well-being. However, little is known about how genes interact with positive traits to affect well-being.

Methods: To investigate to what extent the COMT Val158Met polymorphism modulates well-being and to what extent dispositional gratitude and forgiveness mediate the individual differences in well-being, 445 participants were recruited and required to complete a battery of questionnaires.

Results: We found that individuals with a smaller number of the Met alleles reported greater well-being, less depressive symptoms, and greater tendencies for gratitude and forgiveness. Moreover, dispositional gratitude and forgiveness mediated the genotype effects on well-being and depressive symptoms. These results remained significant after controlling for non-genetic factors (socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, romantic relationship status, parenting style).

Limitation: The sample size limits the generalizability of results.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the contribution of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism to individual differences in well-being and suggests a potential psychobiological pathway from dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems to happiness.

Keywords: COMT; Depression; Forgiveness; Gratitude; Well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase / genetics*
  • Depression / genetics
  • Female
  • Forgiveness / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • COMT protein, human
  • Catechol O-Methyltransferase