Genes may be cause of work stress

Bosses may not be to blame for the stress individuals feel at work. This is the suggestion of new research published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, which found genetic influences may play an important role in this regard.

Carried out by Timothy Judge, a Professor of Management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, the study revealed genes are a significant contributor to work stress, job satisfaction and related health problems.

After studying nearly 600 twins, Professor Judge discovered that being raised in the same environment did not have a major influence on personality and stress, rather shared genes were four times as important as shared environment.

Professor Judge noted "strong heritabilities to work stress and the outcomes of stress", adding: "Stress may have less to do with the objective features of the environment than to the genetic code of the individual."

According to the findings, leaving a difficult job for another position might not free a person from stress unless they understand their own predispositions to the condition.

Chartered Psychologsit Dr Alumth McDowall said: "A fascinating study - twin work is so important for teasing out the influence of nature and nurture. But we need to look behind the headlines! The measure of 'stress' in the study is about people's reactions to the demands of their job. Whilst informative, this tells us little about what their jobs are in real life! So we need to be very mindful about taking the study results too literally. Stress is complex and influenced by many things. It's too easy a conclusion to put the blame on the employee and let the boss off the hook!"

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