Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people

Paul Costa, Robert R. McCrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 1st of 3 experiments, based on responses from a total sample of 1,100 males aged 35-85, examined the relation between 4 measures of happiness and 7 personality dispositions hypothesized to be related to positive or negative affect. Exp II tested the original hypothesis using measures of the broader dimensions of Neuroticism (N) and Extraversion (E). In Exp III, happiness was predicted from N and E data obtained 10 yrs previously. Based on the results of these studies, it is argued that (a) one set of traits influences positive affect or satisfaction, whereas a different set of traits influences negative affect or dissatisfaction; (b) the former set of traits can be viewed as components of extraversion, and the latter as components of neuroticism; and (c) personality differences antedate and predict differences in happiness over a period of 10 yrs, thus ruling out the rival hypothesis that temporary moods or states account for the observed relations. A model of individual differences in happiness is presented, and the separate and complementary role of trait and adaptation-level theories in explaining happiness are discussed. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-678
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1980
Externally publishedYes


  • dissatisfaction, happiness, 35-85 yr old males
  • extraversion personality traits &
  • neuroticism traits &
  • satisfaction &

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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