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Personality, satisfaction linked throughout adult lifespan

  • Personality

Certain traits related to satisfaction in life regardless of age, study says

Read the journal article

  • The Link Between Personality, Global, and Domain-Specific Satisfaction Across the Adult Lifespan (PDF, 537KB)

WASHINGTON — Certain personality traits are associated with satisfaction in life, and despite the changes people may experience in social roles and responsibilities over the course of their adult lives, that association is stable regardless of age, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Many studies have shown that people with certain personality profiles are more satisfied with their life than others. Yet, it had not been extensively studied whether this holds true across the lifespan. For example, extraverted—that is sociable, talkative—people might be particularly happy in young adulthood, when they typically are forming new social relationships,” said study co-author Gabriel Olaru, PhD, an assistant professor at Tilburg University. “We thus wanted to examine if some personality traits are more or less relevant to life, social and work satisfaction in specific life phases.”

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

To determine how the relationship between personality traits and life satisfaction changes over time, researchers analyzed data collected from 2008 to 2019 by the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) panel survey, a nationally representative survey of households in the Netherlands. Over 11 years, 9,110 Dutch participants ranging from 16 to 95 years old at the time of the first survey answered multiple questionnaires to assess their Big Five personality traits—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability/neuroticism—and their satisfaction with their social connections and their life overall. Only the 5,928 participants who were employed at the time of the survey also answered questions about their satisfaction with their work lives.

The researchers found that most of the relationships between personality traits and satisfaction remained the same across the adult lifespan, and that emotional stability was the trait most strongly associated with people’s satisfaction with their life, social connections and career.

“Our findings show that – despite differences in life challenges and social roles – personality traits are relevant for our satisfaction with life, work and social contacts across young, middle and older adulthood,” said Manon van Scheppingen, PhD, an assistant professor at Tilburg University and another co-author on the study. “The personality traits remained equally relevant across the adult lifespan, or became even more interconnected in some cases for work satisfaction.”

The researchers also found that different personality traits were related to people’s satisfaction with their social lives and careers—most notably conscientiousness for work satisfaction, and extraversion and agreeableness for social satisfaction. People who saw increases in these traits across time also reported increases in their life, social and work satisfaction.

People’s satisfaction with their work was the most affected by differences in age. As participants in the study aged, the relationship between career satisfaction and emotional stability grew moderately stronger.

Despite a weaker correlation between openness and life satisfaction overall, the researchers found that people who increased in openness also increased in life satisfaction across the 11 years measured by the LISS survey. This relationship may be explained by indirect processes, according to the researchers.

“Emotional stability likely shows a strong link with global and domain-specific satisfaction because this trait colors people’s general view of the world,” Olaru said.

“A good example of how personality interacts with the environment can be found in the work context. One of our findings was that the link between emotional stability and work satisfaction increases across age. This might be explained by the fact that emotionally stable people are less scared to quit unsatisfactory jobs and more likely to apply for jobs that are more challenging and perhaps more fulfilling and enjoyable in the long run,” van Scheppingen added.

Future studies should examine how variables that change with age, such as income, employment status, marital status and health, affect the relationship between personality traits and overall satisfaction with life, according to the researchers.

“While we did not examine what caused these changes, [the research] shows that our personalities and our happiness are not set in stone,” van Scheppingen said. “Perhaps we may even be able to influence how we change: If we try to become more organized, outgoing, friendly, this might increase life, social or work satisfaction as well.”

Article: “The Link Between Personality, Global, and Domain-Specific Satisfaction Across the Adult Lifespan,” by Gabriel Olaru, PhD, and Manon van Scheppingen, PhD, Tilburg University, Wiebke Bleidorn, PhD, University of Zurich, and Jaap Denissen, PhD, Utrecht University. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published online March 20, 2023.

In other words, over the course of your lifetime, you are likely to pay far less for your college education than you would pay (in earning potential) for not having a college education. At the same time, each level of college education you receive increases your overall earning potential. This means that a one-year degree in a technical field will provide a modest boost from a high school diploma when it comes to earning potential but an associate’s degree will provide an even better boost. You will see an even more significant improvement in earning potential when you increase from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree. The vast majority of students enter the workforce upon completion of a bachelor’s degree. Those students, however, who remain in school for graduate studies often, find that a master’s degree even further improves their lifetime earning potentials.

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The Loy Krathong festival is a popular and beautiful event celebrated annually in Thailand. The festival takes place on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which usually falls in November. The name "Loy Krathong" comes from the Thai words "loy" meaning "to float" and "krathong" referring to the small, handmade baskets that are floated on water during the festival.

The tradition of Loy Krathong dates back to the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom, and is believed to have originated as a way to pay respect to the water goddess, Phra Mae Khongkha. The festival also marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the rice harvest.

During Loy Krathong, people gather by rivers, canals, and lakes to release their krathongs onto the water. The krathongs are made from banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks, and are believed to carry away bad luck and negative energies. Many people also release small boats decorated with candles, incense, and offerings, known as "krathong sai," into the water.

In addition to the water-based activities, Loy Krathong also involves cultural performances, parades, and fireworks displays. The festival is also an opportunity for families and friends to come together and enjoy traditional Thai foods such as "khao tom mat," sticky rice cooked in bamboo tubes, and "khanom tom," a sweet dessert made of sticky rice and coconut milk.

One of the most spectacular places to experience Loy Krathong is in the ancient city of Sukhothai, where the festival is celebrated in a grand and traditional manner. The city is illuminated with candles and lanterns, and there are cultural performances and fireworks displays throughout the night.

Overall, Loy Krathong is a beautiful and meaningful festival that showcases the rich culture and traditions of Thailand. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and the coming together of communities to celebrate the beauty and abundance of nature.