If our personality and genetics play a large role in defining our psychological state, then how does science explain identical twins who have completely different world views? A new BBC documentary looks at how significant events in our lives can affect our future mindset, using twins as a test of the theory. Going further, one of the volunteers for the show explores courses on Cognitive Bias Modification and mindfulness as methods of adjusting 'thinking errors' that can cause negative or stressed states. These techniques are ones that can be applied in the workplace to deal with specific pressures (try our mindful meditations in the BIG ideas section of Good Day at Work™)
Many of us categorise ourselves as either optimist or pessimist, but what can science tell us about how we got that way and can we change, asks Michael Mosley. Debbie and Trudi are identical twins. They have much in common, except that Trudi is cheerful and optimistic while Debbie is prone to bouts of profound depression. It is likely that her depression was triggered by a major life event, though the twins have different views as to what that event might have been. By studying a group of identical twins like Debbie and Trudi, Prof Tim Spector, based at St Thomas' hospital in London, has been trying to answer fundamental questions about how our personality is formed. Why are some people more positive about life than others? Spector has been able to identify a handful of genes which are switched on in one twin and not the other. Twin studies suggest that, when it comes to personality, about half the differences between us are because of genetic factors. But Spector points out that throughout our lives, in response to environmental factors, our genes are constantly being dialled up and down as with a dimmer switch, a process known as epigenetics.
Read full story at the www.bbc.co.uk
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