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Personality and Life Satisfaction:

A Facet-Level Analysis

Ulrich Schimmack
Shigehiro Oishi
R. Michael Furr
David C. Funder
• Five global dimensions of individual
differences (the Big Five):

Neuroticism, Openness to Experience,

Extraversion, Agreeableness and

(McCrae & Costa, 1997)

Subjective Well Being (SWB)
• High SWB implies happy life with many
pleasant and few unpleasant experiences and
high life satisfaction (Diener & Larsen, 1984; Diener, Suh,
Lucas, & Smith, 1999).

• SWB is moderately stable over time and it is

influenced by personality traits. It has strong
links with Extraversion and Neuroticism (Diener &
Lucas, 1999).
Hierarchical Taxonomies of

• The advantage of broad constructs such as N and E

is that they predict a wide variety of behaviors with
a relatively small set of personality dimensions .

• Personality questionnaires such as the NEO PI R

(Costa & Mc Crae) describe personality in terms of
the Big Five and in terms of six specific facets of
each of the Big Five Dimensions, so are helpful in
identifying these specific traits.
Subjective Well Being & the Big Five
SWB researches distinguish 2 components:

Affective- hedonic balance of pleasant and

unpleasant experiences. Extraversion and
Neuroticism are strong predictors of the
affective component of SWB.

Cognitive- SWB assessed with life satisfaction

judgments (e.g. ‘I am satisfied with my life’).
• The main aim of this study was to provide a
more detailed examination of the personality
traits that influence life satisfaction.

• It was predicted that facets of Extraversion

and Neuroticism that are dispositions to
experience pleasant or unpleasant emotions
should be most closely related to life
Study 1
• Participants: 136 students (100f and 36m).

• Procedure: Participants and informants completed

NEO-PI-R and Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS;
Diener et al, 1985).

• Results:- E & N were strong predictors of Life

• - depression and positive emotions are
necessary and sufficient to account for the relation
between personality and life satisfaction.
Study 2
Study 2 replicated the key finding of Study 1
with an alternative measure of personality-
IPIP (Goldberg, 1997).

• Study 2 found that depression and

cheerfulness were the first two predictors of
informant reports of life satisfaction.
Study 3
• Study 3 extended the previous two studies by using
multiple personality measures, whereas life
satisfaction was assessed only by self reports.

Results: The self rating and peer reports: Depression

and positive emotions were the facets that
correlated most highly with LS.

Parents reports showed the highest correlation

between self-consciousness and assertiveness.
Study 4
• The predictive validity of the depression and
positive emotions facets was compared to a popular
brief measure of E and N- the 44 item Big Five
Inventory (John et al, 1999).

• Extraversion and Neuroticism were more strongly

correlated with life satisfaction than the other
dimensions. Positive emotions and depression were
more highly correlated with LS than E & N.
General Discussion
• 4 studies revealed that depression facet of N
and positive emotion/cheerfulness facet of E
are the most consistent predictors of LS.

• Depression and positive emotions are

necessary and sufficient to maximize the
prediction of LS.
• 16 NEO-PI-R or 20 IPIP items are sufficient to
assess influence of personality on LS.

• SWB researchers should focus on the affective

facets of E & N.

• The absence of gender differences in LS is

consistent with the evidence regarding
differences in the facets of N & E.
• It is possible that other personality traits are
more important predictors in other
populations in different cultures.

• Different results could have emerged with

another measure of LS than SWLS (Diener et
al. 1985).