qualities, such as extroversion, are generally happier than others; however, it has been unknown whether this holds true as people age.
Despite changes in living conditions and experiences, the Big 5 personality traits continue to be substantially associated with life satisfaction across the lifespan, according to the findings.
“The personality traits remained equally relevant to life, social, or work satisfaction across the adult lifespan, or became even more interconnected in some cases for work satisfaction,” Manon van Scheppingen, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Tilburg University and one of the study’s co-authors, told Healthline.
Our personality qualities have a significant impact on our satisfaction throughout our lives.
The researchers examined data from 9,110 Dutch people to better understand how the relationship between personality and life satisfaction changes as people age.
The Study of Big Five Personality Traits
The participants, who ranged in age from 16 to 95, completed multiple surveys over the course of 11 years about their personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability/neuroticism – as well as their satisfaction with their social relationships, careers, and lives.
The researchers discovered that the relationship between personality traits and life satisfaction was stable across the lifespan, implying that personality qualities continue to have a major influence on one’s overall contentment in life regardless of age.
According to Dr. van Scheppingen, emotional stabilitywhich helps people see their reality was the greatest predictor of happiness in a more positive manner.
“The findings indicated that emotional stability – a trait related to coping with stress, regulating emotions, and being flexible in the face of challenge and change – was the most powerful predictor of overall satisfaction with life and career,” Janelle S. Peifer, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Richmond, said.
The Higher Impacting Traits
The researchers also discovered that certain traits had a higher impact on other aspects of life – for example, conscientiousness was more closely linked to work happiness, while extraversion and agreeableness had a greater impact on social pleasure.
Individuals who scored higher in any of the Big 5 personality traits as they matured reported better levels of satisfaction later in life, indicating that our personality qualities are not fixed.
This was notably noticeable in terms of openness; those who got more open as they matured reported the greatest increases in life satisfaction.
According to David Spiegel, MD, associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, open people are innovative, curious, and creative.
“If there are good possibilities around the corner, they are more likely to find and welcome them,” says Dr. Spiegel.
Furthermore, the researchers hypothesize that the association between emotional stability and work satisfaction strengthened as people aged, which is because older people are more inclined to leave unsatisfying positions and apply for more challenging roles.
“In this way, emotional stability interacts with the work environment to increasingly contribute to our satisfaction in this life domain,” van Scheppingen said.
According to the researchers, further research is needed to understand how other factors, such as money, marital status, employment status, and health, influence both personality traits and life happiness throughout our lifetimes.
“The interaction between ourselves, our traits, and our experiences are complex and ongoing,” says Dr. Peifer.
Personality is still a significant, albeit flexible, component of happiness.
Personality qualities, according to Peifer, tend to be stable throughout time, but they can alter.
Adolescents, for example, tend to grow more emotionally stable as they age and biologically develop, which can increase life happiness.
People’s settings and experiences can have a significant impact on their actions, personality traits, and emotions, as well as their overall life satisfaction.
Joining a social club, for example, could increase an individual’s extraversion, making them more socially pleased, according to the researchers.
On the other hand, being in a difficult romantic relationship may result in more unfavorable personality changes, such as a decrease in emotional stability, and lowering life satisfaction.
Previous research, according to Scheppingen, reveals that people may affect and change their personalities.
“If we try to become more curious, outgoing, or disciplined – to name some examples – this might increase our happiness as well,” van Scheppingen said.
Another tactic is to study your personality and find activities that match your personality traits, which can also help boost your happiness, he added.
“While individuals can always seek to develop new skills, like extraversion, comfort in novel situations, emotional stability, and agreeableness, there is also space to investigate what types of spaces will help you thrive as you are,” Peifer said.
Recent research looked at how our personality traits affect happiness and discovered that people who are emotionally stable, conscientious, and agreeable are happier in life.
Furthermore, while our personality traits remain equally significant in life satisfaction throughout our lives, people’s personality traits can and do change as they age.
- The link between personality, global, and domain-specific satisfaction across the adult lifespan – (https:pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36939603/)