Relationship Between Personality Traits and Subjective Wellbeing
Personality factors influence subjective wellbeing in a unique way. More importantly, the assertion that emotional stability is weightier than extraversion in terms of influence on subjective wellbeing may be interpreted to insinuate some controversies regarding the relationship between personality factors and subjective wellbeing. In this light, the present research seeks to establish the correct position regarding this relationship. Attention is drawn to the debate on whether or not extraversion is the most critical determinant of subjective wellbeing, especially now that emotional stability has been introduced into the discussion.
Review on relevant literature.
Human beings are confronted by numerous situations, both positive and negative, in their day-to-day lives. However, individuals react differently to these situations, hence the concept of subjective well-being. Diener define subjective well-being as the outcome of how people evaluate their lives as well as emotional experiences, which determine the degree of satisfaction with one’s life (Diener 2016). Gutiérrez simplifies subjective wellbeing to mean happiness (Gutiérrez, 2005). There are many factors that influence a person’s subjective wellbeing; these include personality, genes, and temperament (Diener et al., 2016). Out of these three, personality has received significant attention from psychologists and scholars. Soto states that “people with different personality traits tend to experience different degrees of subjective well-being” (Soto 2015). Extensive research has been done to establish the connection between subjective wellbeing and personality. According to Libran, personality is categorized into five key traits, but out of these, neuroticism and extraversion are the most widely studied in respect to subjective wellbeing (Libran 2006). This author reports that extraverts tend to experience or exhibit a higher degree of subjective wellbeing, while neurotics exhibit low levels of subjective wellbeing. A third trait, agreeableness, has also been found to positively influence subjective well-being (Gutiérrez, 2005).
While it is universally agreed that personality traits influence subjective well-being, there is evidence that the exact relationship between these two variables is also dependent upon national culture. Zhai conducted a study in which they compared the relationship between personality and subjective wellbeing among participants drawn from China and the West. It emerged that in collectivist cultures, extraversion has the greatest and most significant impact on subjective wellbeing (Zhai 2013). On a different note, authors seem to be divided on the issue of which among the key personality traits have the greatest effects on subjective wellbeing. Much as it is widely held that extraversion is the largest predictor of subjective wellbeing, Libran reports that recent studies have established that emotional stability exerts greater impact than extraversion on emotional stability (Libran 2006). Such a disclosure indicates that contrary to popular belief that neuroticism and extraversion are the most important influencers of emotional stability, there are other traits that equally influence the same. For example, agreeableness has been found to positively influence subjective well-being (Soto, 2015), the explanation being that agreeable persons are generally cooperative, compassionate and respectful towards others (Bernstein et al., 2018). Consequently, they are liked by peers and can build and sustain satisfying relationships, which in turn bolster their subjective well-being (Soto, 2015).
This research will be guided by three hypotheses as stated below:
H1: There is a positive correlation between extraversion and subjective well-being
H1: There is a negative correlation between neuroticism and subjective well-being
H1: There is a positive correlation between agreeableness and subjective well-being
Design of the study
This study was conducted on residents of two townships, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst. Twenty participants were sampled from the population. Due to convenience and availability logistics, retirees between the age of 55 and 76 years were used as the subjects. Data about five personality traits and subjective wellbeing was collected. Additional data included age and sex. 50% of the participants were male and the rest were female. These were subjected to a few tests on the various personality traits. Since the data was about the individual and involved a test, questionnaires were majorly used but whenever clearer data was required, interviews were used (Brace, 2018). The raw data was then recorded in a table of rows and columns. This was the most convenient method (Li, Tang, & Lu, 2015).
Analysis of Data
Methods of data analysis
In this study, we used the mean as the measure of central tendency. Mean is a measure of central tendency which is also referred to as the average in some cases due to its dominance among the other measures, mode and median. It is calculated by multiplying all values of the variables by their respective frequencies, summing up these multiples, and then dividing by the total frequency.
For example, mean age= summation of (frequency * value of each variable) divide by the total frequency
Observing the means of all these variable in question, they are relatively high, mostly between six and eight except that of neuroticism.
The other variable we can use to analyze this data is the standard deviation. This is a measure of dispersion which measures the difference between variables and the mean value. The variance is calculated by first subtracting the mean from each data value. Then, the resulting difference is squared, all the differences summed up and lastly divided by the cumulative frequency (Taylor, 2018). It was noted that the variance for most of the data sets was around that of the mean meaning that the values varied from the mean just slightly. They clustered around the mean.
Relationship Between Subjective Wellbeing and Other Personality Traits.
Subjective wellbeing and extraversion- Extraversion is the quality of someone enjoying the company of others rather than being alone. When viewing the raw data, it is evident that those respondents whose subjective wellbeing was low recorded low levels of extraversion. Similarly, those who had a high level of subjective wellbeing had high levels of extraversion.
Subjective wellbeing and agreeableness- This experiment showed similar results to those of extraversion. However, the trend in this case was not very reliable as some instances had cases of low SWB and high agreeableness. The reverse was also noticed.
SWB and conscientiousness- conscientiousness is the quality of one being careful in what he does. It was noted that those people who feel their lives are okay have higher conscientiousness than those who don’t feel they are fine.
SWB and neuroticism- Neuroticism is a mild mental disorder. Those people with this condition recorded lower degrees of subjective wellbeing. This means that these two conditions are inversely related.
SWB and openness- Openness is the quality of not being secretive. It was noted that, the level of openness is directly proportional to that of the subjective wellbeing. However, the level of openness in all the participants was low regardless of that on the subjective wellbeing scale, hardly reaching eight.
Summary and Conclusions
The main problem for the study was to find out the relationship that exists between neuroticism, agreeableness, and extraversion. Three hypotheses were formulated to come up with tentative answers to these questions. The aim was to accept or deny the hypotheses.
In finding a suitable sample space, two localities were first selected. Then, samples were picked from these localities, based on their age and current occupational status. Questionnaires were then administered and filled by the respondents, whose sample space was 20 participants, with gender equality being considered. Lastly, any clarifications were made by means of interviewing the respondents and responding to their queries. After all the data was collected, it was then arranged in a table using the nominal scale, starting with men, then women. These statistics were latter subjected to mathematical evaluations and we came up with the mean, standard deviation, and correlation for all the variables’ values. These values served the purpose of helping the researchers to come up with conclusions about the relationship between the data. Lastly, the validity of the hypotheses that were formulated was tested against the conclusions that the researchers had come up with.
The major findings of the study were, agreeableness had the least correlation with subjective wellbeing since its value was closer to zero. The values of the correlation coefficients of neuroticism and extraversion were closer to -1 and 1 respectively. However, the value of the coefficient for extraversion was closer to 1 than how close that of neuroticism was to -1. This implies that there was a stronger linear correlation between extraversion and subjective wellbeing than that between SWB and neuroticism. In addition, the researchers illustrated the findings on a scatter diagram and drew the least square line. They noted that most of the points fell closer to the line in the graph of SWB against extraversion that they did in the graph of neuroticism. This therefor illustrated a strong linear correlation between extraversion and SWB. However, it must be noted that the sample size was small and the findings may not be reliable. Trends about the variables under study may not also come out clearly. Additionally, the data obtained was bulky due to the large number of variables, some of which were not necessary. This led to unnecessary calculations which took more time.
The findings above led to the acceptance of the first and second hypotheses, that there is a positive correlation between extraversion and subjective wellbeing and there is a negative correlation between neuroticism and subjective wellbeing. However, the second one portrayed a weak positive correlation with SWB. The third hypothesis was not accepted because there were no trends presented. Neither was the correlation close to 1 or -1.
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, just as per other scholars’, this experiment yielded results that confirm that the most dominant personality trait in determining subjective wellbeing is extraversion. This trait portrayed the best linear relationship with subjective wellbeing, even with the small sample size.
The study above was conducted under conditions that may not yield reliable results. For example, the sample size was too small for us to make conclusions about the entire human population. In addition, this sample size did not portray consistent results in some of the variables, for example agreeableness dint present any trends. If the sample size could be increased to a larger number of subjects, then more reliable and consistent results could be obtained (Malterud, Siersma, & Guassora, 2016).
Secondly, the study involved five variables, two of which were not in the hypotheses. This presented more work to the researchers to analyze the work. In future studies, the researchers should focus on the most relevant variables only to avid spending more time in one study.
Bernstein, D. A. (2018). Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Diener, E., Heintzelman, S. J., Kushlev, K., Tay, L., Wirtz, D., Lutes, L. D., & Oishi, S. (2016). Findings all psychologists should know from the new science on subjective well-being. Canadian Psychology/psychologie canadienne, 58(2), 87.
Gutiérrez, J. L. G., Jiménez, B. M., Hernández, E. G., & Puente, C. (2005). Personality and subjective well-being: Big five correlates and demographic variables. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(7), 1561-1569.
Librán, E. C. (2006). Personality dimensions and subjective well-being. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 9(1), 38-44.
Soto, C. J. (2015). Is happiness good for your personality? Concurrent and prospective relations of the big five with subjective well‐being. Journal of personality, 83(1), 45-55.
Zhai, Q., Willis, M., O’shea, B., Zhai, Y., & Yang, Y. (2013). Big Five personality traits, job satisfaction and subjective wellbeing in China. International Journal of Psychology, 48(6), 1099-1108.
Brace, I. (2018). Questionnaire design: How to plan, structure and write survey material for effective market research.
Li, Z. a., Tang, J., & Lu, H. (2015). Robust structured subspace learning for data representation. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence, 1.
Malterud, K., Siersma, V. D., & Guassora, A. D. (2016). Sample size in qualitative interview studies: guided by information power. Qualitative health research, 1753–1760.
Taylor, J. (2018). Quality assurance of chemical measurements. Routledge.
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