How Does the Environment Get Under Your Skin?

Early Life Experiences, Epigenome, and Genome in Dispositional Optimism

  • Sociology
  • Psychology

Principal Investigators

Dr. Jari Lahti
Adjunct Professor, Institute of Behavioural Studies
University of Helsinki


Studies on (epi)genomic and environmental determinants of dispositional optimism (DO) are surprisingly scarce; and no consistent findings exist.

In this study, we will elucidate developmental underpinnings of DO from environmental, epigenomic and genomic perspectives. This research will capitalise on intense collaboration with top experts on molecular effects of early life adversities (Professor Binder), developmental psychology (Professor Räikkönen), and DO (Professor Scheier) as well as with availability of unique data. To investigate the environmental and epigenomic effects on DO, we have at our disposal three prospective Finnish birth cohorts with rich data on variety of early life adversities and epigenome-wide data on methylation signature. To explore the molecular genomic architecture of DO, we have obtained genome-wide data from over 50.000 participants for the largest genome-wide association study conducted thus far on DO.

With this study, we will increase understanding of the developmental and molecular basis of DO and how early environment exert its effects on DO.