The Fun Personality Trait That Makes People Happier

The trait was stimulated in people through doing a series of simple exercises.

The trait was stimulated in people through doing a series of simple exercises.

Becoming more playful makes people happier, research finds.

Playfulness was stimulated in people through doing a series of simple exercises.

One involves writing down three playful moments experienced during the day just before bedtime.

Another simple exercise used was reflecting on playful behaviour people had seen in themselves during the day.

Those who did this for a week became more playful and felt happier.

Playful people can transform humdrum situations, like repetitive tasks, into games.

They may enjoy word games, mental games and have an insatiable curiosity.

Being playful has a number of advantages including being able to adopt new perspectives, having an eye for detail and creativity.

Playful people enjoy unusual things and are good at creating situations people can enjoy.

Indeed, playfulness is one of the most attractive personality traits.

Playful people, though, are easily bored, explained Professor RenĂ© Proyer, the study’s first author:

“Particularly playful people have a hard time dealing with boredom.

They manage to turn almost any everyday situation into an entertaining or personally engaging experience.”

The study included 533 people, half of whom were given three activities designed to boost their playfulness:

  1. Write down three playful situations from the day.
  2. Be playful in an unfamiliar situation.
  3. Reflect on playful behaviour experienced during the day.

Mr Kay Brauer, study co-author, said:

“Our assumption was that the exercises would lead people to consciously focus their attention on playfulness and use it more often.

This could result in positive emotions, which in turn would affect the person’s well-being.

Our study is the first intervention study on adults to show that playfulness can be induced and that this has positive effects for them.”

The results showed that the exercises did lead to increased playfulness and a boost to happiness.

Professor Proyer said:

“I believe that we can use this knowledge in everyday life to improve various aspects.

This does not mean that every company needs table tennis tables or a playground slide.

However, one idea would be to allow employees to consciously integrate playfulness into their everyday work and, as a supervisor, to set an example for this kind of behaviour.”

The study was published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being (Proyer et al., 2020).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

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