Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence, and Multiple Happiness

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence, and Multiple Happiness

Article excerpt

This study set out to re-examine the predictors of self-reported trait happiness as measured by the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) as well as the predictors of various happiness types proposed by Morris (2004). In all, 120 Cypriot participants completed the 4 questionnaires: OHI, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue-SF), and Morris Multiple Happiness Inventory (MMHI). It was hypothesized that Extraversion and Neuroticism would be, respectively, positively and negatively correlated with happiness and trait EI would be a positive predictor of happiness. Considering Morris' happiness types, it was hypothesized that specific individual difference variables (Extraversion, trait EI, religiousness, Neuroticism) would be predictive of different happiness conditions or motivations (Sensation seeking, Interpersonal happiness, Spiritual happiness and Negative happiness) respectively. All but one hypothesis was confirmed: Neuroticism was not a significant predictor of Negative happiness. This study demonstrated that high trait EI and extraversion are predictive of overall happiness and most happiness types proposed by Morris, although other factors, like religiousness, are also important. Implications for increasing well-being are discussed.

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For many years, the topic of happiness remained neglected, with research concentrating on aspects of human unhappiness, such as depression, anxiety, and emotional disorders. Recently, however, this imbalance has been corrected and there are now many studies of what has come to be called "subjective well-being" (SWB)--a term used as a synonym for happiness. Indeed, there is now a whole field called positive psychology dedicated to understanding the process of human happiness. Specifically, studies have examined the definitions, correlates, and predictors of happiness (e.g., Argyle, 1992, 2001; Diener, 1984; Eysenck, 1990; Myers, 1992; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Vitterso & Nilsen, 2004).

Undoubtedly, many environmental factors have been shown to have a strong effect on happiness, such as work, money, and leisure activities. However, some researchers have concluded that personality is a greater determinant of happiness than race, social class, money, social relationships, work, leisure, religion, or other external variables (Diener et al., 1999). Indeed, enduring features of the person can have a strong impact, affecting happiness from the "inside" rather than the "outside" (Eysenck, 1983). For example, Diener and Larsen (1984) found that positive and negative affect in various work and leisure situations was more due to persons (52%) than to situations (23%). There is also interaction between the effects of person and situations. Larsen and Ketelaar (1991) found that extraverts react more strongly to positive stimuli than do introverts, so that the combination of extraversion and pleasant situations produces positive affect. Individuals can also choose or avoid situations and relationships in a way that promotes their well being. Argyle and Lu (1990) found that the happiness of extraverts could be partly explained by their choice of enjoyable social situations, while Argyle (1994) found that the socially unskilled avoid many social situations that others enjoy. Similarly, Furnham (1981) had found that individuals select situations that fulfill various personality trait needs.

Various studies have examined the relation of personality traits to happiness and have yielded consistent findings. Extraversion and Neuroticism have been repeatedly found to be the strongest predictors of happiness levels, accounting for up to half of the total variance in various measures (Argyle & Lu, 1990; Brebner, 1998; Francis, 1999; Francis et al., 1998; Myers & Diener, 1995). Eysenck (1983) noted that "Happiness is a thing called stable extraversion ... the positive effect in happiness seemed to be related to easy sociability, with a natural, pleasant interaction with other people . …

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