Personality and Psychological Well-Being of Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Emotional Intelligence

Article excerpt

Adolescence has been described as a period of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes that involves experimentation and risk taking (Aggarwal, 1998; Lerner & Galambos, 1998). During this period, some developmental problems have been identified, especially those dealing with self-perceptions, feelings about the self, negative emotions in general, and identity versus role confusion (Lerner & Galambos, 1998). Coupled with these problems are the multifarious needs (biogenic, physiogenic, psychogenic, and sociogenic) that adolescents have to satisfy. These problems usually culminate in heightened emotionality among adolescents. When these emotional tensions are not minimized, adolescents may engage in activities that threaten their psychological well-being (PWB; Aggarwal, 1998; Morris & Maisto, 2008). How individuals cope with their stressors or emotional tensions depends on their individual differences or personality disposition (McCrae & Costa, 1991). However, the role of personality traits defined according to the conceptualization of the five-factor model (FFM) in PWB is not well understood (Code & Langan-Fox, 2001). Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the relationship between personality and PWB of adolescents.

A number of earlier researchers have examined links between affect, well-being, and personality (Costa & McCrae, 1984; Emmons & Diener, 1985; Izard, Libero, Putnam, & Haynes, 1993; Larsen & Ketelaar, 1991). Such researchers, however, had difficulties in establishing clear distinctions, theoretically and empirically, among affect, well-being, and personality (Schmutte & Ryff, 1997). Theories of personality in that era (Tellegen, 1985) defined affect as a central component of personality structure. Positive emotion or happiness has been identified as a hallmark of well-being (Diener, 1984). Items relating to emotion or affect frequently occur in personality and well-being inventories. This theoretical and methodological overlap has rarely been acknowledged by prior researchers (Schmutte & Ryff, 1997), who sought predominantly to establish individual predisposition toward happiness. The contribution of personality to facets of psychological health is less well known. The operationalization of well-being in those earlier studies generally did not include relevant theory concerning the nature of positive functioning and optimal human development (Schmutte & Ryff, 1997).


PWB is a multidimensional construct that includes both emotional and cognitive elements. Bradburn (1969) considered well-being in terms of positive affect as opposed to negative affect. According to Bradburn, an individual who scored higher on positive affect than on negative affect would score high on PWB and vice versa. Diener, Emmons, Larsen, and Griffin (1985) asserted that satisfaction with life refers to a global appraisal of well-being. Pavot, Fujita, and Diener (1997) pointed out that the experience of subjective well-being includes both the presence of positive affect and the absence of negative affect as well as the cognitive element of satisfaction with life. While the focus of earlier studies of well-being was on the absence of psychopathology, the emphasis of recent studies has been on optimal PWB (Bar-On, 2005; Huppert, Baylis, & Keverne, 2004). Huppert et al. describe subjective well-being as living life well.

Ryff (1989) offered an alternative multidimensional model of PWB that was derived from theoretical discussions of optimal aging, positive functioning, and normal human development. The PWB scales assess individuals' appraisal of themselves and their lives across six conceptually distinct realms of psychological functioning (Schmutte & Ryff, 1997). These aspects of psychological health include: (a) self-acceptance, the capacity to see and accept our strengths and weaknesses; (b) personal growth, realizing our talents and potential over time; (c) positive relations with others; (d) autonomy; (e) environmental mastery; and (f) finding purpose in life by having goals and objectives that give life meaning and direction. …