New findings suggest that genes may play a significant role in determining how successful a person is in life.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh studied 837 sets of twins and found that DNA played a bigger role in a person’s predisposition towards determination, sociability and self-control and sense of purpose than their environment and upbringing.

Researchers said that genetically influenced characteristic traits like self-control, decision making or sociability can make the difference between success and failure.

Psychologists measured the influences of nature and nurture on successful characteristics by questioning participants, mostly over the age of 50, about how they perceive life, themselves and others.

After comparing the characteristics of identical with non-identical twins, researchers reported that identical twins, who share all their DNA and upbringing were twice as likely to share traits compared with non-identical twins who also grew up in the same environment.

The findings, published in the Journal of Personality, suggest that genes are more powerful than lifestyle in determining a person’s sense of self-control, persistence, and determination, traits that are all important in determining future success.

These traits are important because it affects an individual ability to continue learning and developing, thus increasing their chances for later achievement. 

“Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have debated the nature of a good life and the nature of a virtuous life,” Researcher Professor Timothy Bates said in a statement.

“Why do some people seem to manage their lives, have good relationships and cooperate to achieve their goals while others do not?” he added.

Bates noted that while psychologists have previously thought that family and environment were largely responsible for an individual’s ideas or psychological well-being, the latest findings “highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics,” he said.

“These results indicate that psychological well-being is underpinned by a general genetic factor influencing self-control, and four underlying biological mechanisms enabling the psychological capabilities of purpose, agency, growth, and positive social relations,” the authors concluded.

However, researcher said that not all is lost for people who were not born with traits that predispose success. Bates says that a person’s sense of purpose is critical in determining future success, and that people wanting to thrive in live should focus their thoughts on making a difference.