Genetic and Environmental Causes of Individual Differences in Daily Life Positive Affect and Reward Experience and Its Overlap with Stress-Sensitivity

Claudia Menne-Lothmann*, Nele Jacobs, Catherine Derom, Evert Thiery, Jim van Os, Marieke Wichers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Web of Science)


Momentary positive affect (PA) and reward experience may underlie subjective wellbeing, and index mental health resilience. This study examines their underlying sources of variation and the covariation with stress-sensitivity. The experience sampling method was used to collect multiple appraisals of mood and daily life events in 520 female twins. Structural equation model fitting was employed to determine sources of variation of PA, reward experience, and the association between reward experience and stress-sensitivity. PA was best explained by shared and non-shared environmental factors, and reward experience by non-shared environmental factors only, although the evidence was also suggestive of a small genetic contribution. Reward experience and stress-sensitivity showed no association. PA was not heritable. Most-if not all-variance of reward experience was explained by environmental influences. Stress-sensitivity, indexing depression vulnerability, and reward experience were non-overlapping, suggesting that resilience traits are independent from stress-sensitivity levels in a general population sample.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-786
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Positive affect
  • Reward
  • Psychological resilience
  • Experience sampling method
  • Twin study

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