Mendoza School of Business

Anxious At the Office?

Published: September 18, 2012 / Author: Katie Drummond

No matter how much you love your job, the occasional bad day is pretty much inevitable. But if you’re tempted to put a hex on that colleague in front of you at the coffee machine, or tearing at your hair after every meeting with your boss, you might want to look in the mirror instead: New research points to genetics as one possible cause for elevated levels of office stress.

In a study out of the University of Notre Dame, researchers evaluated the workplace attitudes of 600 twins—some who were raised in the same household, others who weren’t. The idea was to figure out whether nature (our genes) or nurture (our environment) had a bigger influence on how we perceived work stress and job satisfaction. Shared genes turned out to be around four times more important than a shared environment. In other words, two twins with entirely different upbringings would probably both bang their heads against the desk during an endless conference call.

“Our study suggests strong heritabilities to work stress and the outcomes of stress,” says lead study author Timothy Judge, PhD, a professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, in a statement. “This means that stress may have less to do with the objective features of the environment than the genetic ‘code’ of the individual.”

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Topics: Mendoza