happiness smile
Photo: mymindnews.com/Kranich17 via Pixabay

Is There A Single Personality Trait That Makes People Happier?

People with certain personalities are often happier than others. Recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology examines the relationship between five personality traits to determine which one attribute the most to ensure happiness across all areas of our life.

The Big Five traits

Happiness is well-researched, and scientists agree that people with specific personality profiles are happier than others.

Specifically, the traits associated with happy people are openness to experience, emotional stability (neuroticism), extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, hence the well-coined phase of the ‘Big Five traits.’

It is unknown whether life events, changes in social roles, or increased responsibilities reduce happiness in these individuals or if their overall happiness levels remain the same throughout their adult lives.

For example, young adults may exhibit more extroverted traits due to their social situations and need to connect to others and be happier. What is unknown is whether those that rate higher across the five personality traits are consistently happy throughout their lives no matter what life throws at them and which personality trait is crucial.

The Study

The goal of the study – The Link Between Personality, Global, and Domain-Specific Satisfaction Across the Adult Lifespan, is to understand the extent to which the Big Five traits govern satisfaction and happiness.

Researchers used data from the Longitudinal Internet Studies for Social Science, a national study of a significant representation of households in Holland. The data was collected over 11 years from just over 9,000 participants aged 16 to 95, with approximately 6,000 employed.

The participants were measured yearly to measure their satisfaction levels and every three years to measure their personality traits. The researchers measured personality traits across life, work, and social satisfaction across all age groups.

Which one of the Big Five Traits determines higher satisfaction scores?

The researchers found that those who scored highly on the personality trait of emotional stability across life, work, and social satisfaction tended to be happier over their adult lives despite life events.

They also determined that those who increased their ‘openness’ across the 11-year study also increased their life satisfaction and happiness levels. The one key surprise finding in the study was that work satisfaction increased with age.

It suggested that those with high levels of emotional stability were likelier to seek out more challenging and fulfilling roles and not stay in unfulfilling jobs. It is also argued that those with higher levels of emotional stability, more extroverted and open were more likely to be selected into roles with higher levels of responsibility, leading to increased work satisfaction.

In social settings, in addition to emotional stability, those that experienced higher scores for extraversion and agreeableness were found to have higher levels of social satisfaction. This is in line with previous research, but this study emphasized the role that conscientiousness plays.

The higher levels of consciousness were associated with a lower likelihood of divorce. Concerning work satisfaction, higher levels of conscientiousness correlated to higher levels of work satisfaction across all phases of the working life.

Manon van Scheppingen, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Tilburg University and co-author of this study, confirmed that.

“Our personalities and our happiness are not set in stone, perhaps we may even be able to influence how we change: If we try to become more organized, outgoing, friendly, this might increase life, social or work satisfaction as well.”


In summary

To conclude, the study found that emotional stability was the single key personality trait that affected satisfaction scores in life, work, and social settings and made us happier throughout of lives.

However, if we currently have lower scores in any Big Five traits, we can transform this with insight and simple behavior changes, as our personality and happiness are not predetermined.

My Mind News would like to get your feedback. Do you agree that emotional stability is the key personality trait to be consistently happy throughout your life? Do leave a comment below.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get our latest news in your inbox