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Psychol Bull. 2008 Jan;134(1):138-61. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.134.1.138.

Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being.

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Human Resources and Organisational Dynamics, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Understanding subjective well-being (SWB) has historically been a core human endeavor and presently spans fields from management to mental health. Previous meta-analyses have indicated that personality traits are one of the best predictors. Still, these past results indicate only a moderate relationship, weaker than suggested by several lines of reasoning. This may be because of commensurability, where researchers have grouped together substantively disparate measures in their analyses. In this article, the authors review and address this problem directly, focusing on individual measures of personality (e.g., the Neuroticism-Extroversion-Openness Personality Inventory; P. T. Costa & R. R. McCrae, 1992) and categories of SWB (e.g., life satisfaction). In addition, the authors take a multivariate approach, assessing how much variance personality traits account for individually as well as together. Results indicate that different personality and SWB scales can be substantively different and that the relationship between the two is typically much larger (e.g., 4 times) than previous meta-analyses have indicated. Total SWB variance accounted for by personality can reach as high as 39% or 63% disattenuated. These results also speak to meta-analyses in general and the need to account for scale differences once a sufficient research base has been generated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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