5 Personality Traits That Predict Happiness And 3 That Don’t
We know that optimists like to look on the bright side. In contrast, pessimists are the critical sort who seem don’t share such a sunny disposition.
The world needs both optimists and pessimists. But when it comes to the personality that’s happier, it’s no surprise that the optimists win out.
Research shows that certain personalities are happier than others. And new research gives us a closer look by revealing 5 personality traits that can predict happiness.
The 2 “Big Five” Personality Traits Related to Happiness
Psychologists have looked at the relations between happiness and personality before. In relation to the “Big 5” personality traits. A well accepted model of personality used in science and psychological research.
What many of the studies agree on, is that there are two main personality traits that point to a happier life. Higher extraversion and lower neuroticism.
They find that people who are more outgoing and sociable (extraverted) have higher well-being, as well as those people who are more emotionally stable and less worrisome (neurotic).
However, these are pretty broad categories, and personalities can come in all shapes and sizes. Researchers wanted to take a closer look, so they decided to conduct a more thorough analysis using a model that broke down the the Big 5 traits into better detail.
What they found were 5 traits that were linked with well-being. As well as a better understanding of how personality might affect happiness.
5 Personality Traits That Predict Happiness
The researchers used this newer model, called the Big Five Aspect Scales, for their analysis. It breaks down each Big 5 trait into 2 related, but distinct categories.
Extraversion = Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
Agreeableness = Politeness and Compassion
Conscientiousness = Orderliness and Industriousness
Openness = Openness/Creativity and Intellect
Neuroticism = Withdrawal and Volatility
Surprisingly, there was a “sub-trait” from each related Big 5 category that could independently predict happiness. Here they are:
1. Intellectual Curiosity: Related to openness to experience, this characteristic is exhibited by people who love deeper philosophical debates, complex ideas and problems. They love to think, love ideas, love information. They have a high degree of curiosity and love to learn.
2. Industriousness: Related to conscientiousness, this trait is characterized by hard work, finishing projects, focus, and has to-do lists. People who are planners would also be considered industrious.
3. Enthusiasm: Related to extraversion, enthusiastic people make friends easily, get excited about what they’re involved in, and engage with people with around them with excitement. They tend to have a lot of fun, and like to have fun.
4. Compassion: Related to agreeableness, these people are kind to others and are likely to engage in small acts of kindness. They take an interest in other people’s lives and their happiness.
(Small acts of kindness have been found to increase happiness)
5. Withdrawal: Related to neuroticism, people with low withdrawal were found to lead happier lives. People high in this trait would be easily embarrassed, don’t handle adversity or stress well, and tend to quit things easily when they get tough. They tend to have higher levels of anxiety about things.
3 Traits Not Tied to Happiness
Researchers also noticed that there were 3 traits that had no bearing on well-being. So if you lack some of the following qualities, fear not. They probably won’t affect your level of happiness one way or another.
1.Politeness: The other aspect of Agreeableness, these people are fair, considerate, and respectful. While we tend to find these people as more pleasant to deal with, it won’t affect how happy a person will be in their life.
2.Orderliness: These people love tidiness and their routines. The researchers noted that these types of people might be seen as perfectionists, and didn’t affect a person’s level of well-being.
3.Volatility: This is the other trait related to neuroticism, and really comes down to mood. People who exhibit mood swings or are irritable, and issues with impulse control would fall into this category.
More Than One Path to Happiness
Why does this all matter?
On philosophical level, it means there’s more than one path to happiness.
Scientifically speaking, each of the five traits were independently linked to happiness. Which means that you don’t need to have all five. It simply means that if you score higher in one of those specific traits, chances are you’ll be happier.
But it also gives us a peek at which behaviors matter and which might not. Overall, we get a clearer picture of how we can all lead a happier life.