‘I simply want to know why people are the way they are’
Meike Bartels cannot get enough of thinking about how nature and nurture together determine our happiness. Research on twins is helping the new professor of Genetics and Wellbeing to identify where happiness comes from.
While putting the finishing touches on her dissertation in 2003, she suddenly realized she needed to revisit her research. As I was typing ‘25 percent of children have behavioural problems’, I suddenly thought: but what about the other 75 percent? It’s a lot like investigating smoking. Many studies look at why people smoke. I find it much more fascinating to look at why people don’t start smoking in the first place!” Biological psychologist Meike Bartels was appointed University Research Professor of Genetics and Wellbeing at VU Amsterdam as of 1 January 2014. Ever since her moment of insight in 2003, she no longer looks at why people face certain problems, but why they do not have those problems. She is researching how genetic and environmental factors influence happiness, and how happiness endures in the long term. The medical community will be able to use her results in the prevention of mental health problems.
Meike Bartels gave her inaugural lecture on May 22, 2014.