These Personality Traits Make People Happiest

Having any, some or all of these qualities is linked to living a happier life, study finds.

Having any, some or all of these qualities is linked to living a happier life, study finds.

Being enthusiastic and difficult to discourage are two of the personality traits linked to the highest well-being, research finds.

Enthusiastic people tend to have more fun in life and experience fewer negative emotions.

Being difficult to discourage is related to more positive growth, self-acceptance and greater achievement in life.

These were not the only personality factors linked to well-being.

People who are industrious, compassionate and intellectually curious are also happier, but in different ways.

Industrious people, for example, work harder towards long-term goals and are very achievement-oriented.

Compassionate people tend to feel more positive emotions and have better relationships with others.

The intellectually curious are open to new ideas and they enjoy thinking deeply and benefit from greater personal growth.

The conclusions come from a survey of 706 US adults, who were asked about their personality and different aspects of their well-being.

The study demonstrates that there are different paths to happiness.

Positive emotions are good, but so is feeling satisfied with your life, being independent, reaching life goals and experiencing personal growth.

Personality psychologists typically identify high extraverts who are low in neuroticism as the happiest people, as the study’s authors explain:

“The large literature describing the associations between personality traits and well-being suggests that extraversion (the tendency to be bold, talkative, enthusiastic, and sociable) and neuroticism (the tendency to be emotionally unstable and prone to negative emotions) are especially strong predictors of well-being.

But is wellbeing only accessible to the extraverted and non-neurotic?”

No, they argue, being a non-neurotic extravert is not the only way to be happy.

If you look more closely at personality, it turns out there are multiple paths to happiness.

The authors write:

“…the personality–well-being relation varies appreciably across personality aspects and distinct dimensions of well-being.

Not all aspects of extraversion and neuroticism are equally predictive, and aspects of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness/intellect also have idiosyncratic, meaningful associations with distinct forms of positive functioning.”

In other words, it’s possible to be a happy, neurotic, introvert.

It’s just a kind of happiness reached via a different route.

The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Sun et al., 2018).

The Personality Trait Linked To Mood Swings (M)

Like most psychological concepts this personality trait exists on a continuum.

Like most psychological concepts this personality trait exists on a continuum.

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This Trait Is A Sign Of Good Mental And Physical Health

People with this trait are more likely to be in both good psychological and good physical health.

People with this trait are more likely to be in both good psychological and good physical health.

People with a stronger sense of purpose in life are more likely to live healthily — both mentally and physically.

According to research, the reason may be that purpose in life banishes the natural conflict people experience when trying to make healthy choices.

Purpose in life can come from work, family, a sense of self or other broad aim or goal being pursued.

Feeling purposeful contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful:

  • People who feel life is meaningful are more likely to be in both good psychological and good physical health.
  • People who feel life isn’t meaningful are more likely to be depressed, to require therapy and even feel suicidal.

Dr Yoona Kang, the study’s first author, said:

“Purpose in life has been robustly associated with health in previous studies, but the mechanism through which life purpose may promote healthy living has been unclear.”

For the study, 220 people with sedentary lifestyles answered a survey that asked them how much they agreed with statements like:

  • “I have a sense of direction and purpose in my life”
  • “I don’t have a good sense of what it is I’m trying to accomplish in life.”

They were then shown messages urging them to get more exercise.

While reading these messages, their brains were scanned.

The results showed that people who had more purpose in life had less activity in brain regions related to processing conflicts.

In other words, a generalised purpose in life made people argue with the statement less.

Sure enough, they were also more likely to accept that doing a little more exercise was a good idea.

Dr Emily Falk, study co-author, said:

“We conduct studies both to understand how different kinds of health messaging can help transform people’s behaviors and why some people might be more susceptible than others.

This study does a nice job starting to unpack reasons why people who have a higher sense of purpose in life might be more able to take advantage of this messaging when they encounter it.”

The study was published in the journal Health Psychology (Kang et al., 2019).

This Personality Trait Boosts Happiness

Acting out this personality trait makes people feel happier.

Acting out this personality trait makes people feel happier.

Acting like an extravert makes people feel happier — even natural introverts, research finds.

Both extraverts and introverts report greater well-being after a week spent being more talkative, assertive and spontaneous.

It is the first study to report the benefits of acting like an extravert over such an extended period.

The study also demonstrates that people who are naturally introverted can enjoy this exercise as much as extraverts.

‘Faux’ extraverts (people who are really introverts) reported no problems acting as extraverts.

Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, the study’s first author, said:

“The findings suggest that changing one’s social behavior is a realizable goal for many people, and that behaving in an extraverted way improves well-being.”

For the study, 123 people were asked to act like extraverts for one week and introverts for another week.

During the extravert week, participants were told to be talkative, assertive and spontaneous.

During the introvert week, they were told to be more deliberate, quiet and reserved.

People were informed that acting like an introvert and like an extravert is beneficial.

This was to try and dampen the effects of participants’ expectations.

The results showed that people felt better after a week acting as an extravert and worse after the week as an introvert.

The positive effect on well-being is the largest known among happiness interventions.

Surprisingly, acting like an extravert seems to cause people’s personality to shift in that direction.

Professor Lyubomirsky said:

“It showed that a manipulation to increase extraverted behavior substantially improved well-being.

Manipulating personality-relevant behavior over as long as a week may be easier than previously thought, and the effects can be surprisingly powerful.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (Margolis & Lyubomirsky, 2019).

The Personality Trait Associated With Low IQ Scores

One trait is linked to a worse score in intelligence tests.

One trait is linked to a worse score in intelligence tests.

People with unstable emotions tend to get lower scores on IQ tests, studies find.

This may, though, be down to nervousness while taking the test.

In fact, people who are neurotic may have higher IQs than the standard test reveals.

Neuroticism, one of the five major personality traits, encompasses unstable emotions, anxiety, self-consciousness and irritability.

People who are higher in neuroticism may also sleep poorly, the study’s authors explain:

“High scorers tend to be sensitive, emotional, worrying, moody, frequently depressed, often sleep badly and may suffer from various psychosomatic disorders.

Low scorers tend to be secure, hardy and generally relaxed even under stressful conditions.”

The conclusions come from two studies, the first of which was conducted on 646 Dutch twins.

The results showed that people higher in neuroticism got lower scores on an IQ test.

The link is down to genetics, the researchers concluded.

However, a second study gave IQ tests to 213 people and split them into two groups depending on how anxious they were.

The results of this study showed that the more nervous people were, the lower their IQ scores.

By statistically removing the effects of anxiety, though, the researchers were able to show that highly neurotic people are just as intelligent.

The authors conclude:

“Neurotics become more anxious under testing conditions, and this anxiety affects their performance on the IQ tests.

It is therefore proposed that Neuroticism is not related to intelligence per se, but to intelligence test performance, which has been proposed in the past (Eysenck, 1971).

This suggestion implies that IQ tests may underestimate the true intelligence of Neurotic individuals.”

The studies were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Bartels et al., 2012Moutafi et al., 2006).

The Most Severe Personality Disorder Weakens Empathic Brain Activity

Why people with the most severe personality disorder find it difficult to have romantic relationships and friendships.

Why people with the most severe personality disorder find it difficult to have romantic relationships and friendships.

People with borderline personality disorder have deficits in brain regions related to empathy, research finds.

The finding helps explain why people with borderline personality disorder have unstable moods.

They also often have trouble maintaining relationships with others.

Dr Brian Haas, the study’s lead authors, said:

“Our results showed that people with BPD traits had reduced activity in brain regions that support empathy.

This reduced activation may suggest that people with more BPD traits have a more difficult time understanding and/or predicting how others feel, at least compared to individuals with fewer BPD traits.”

The study involved over 80 people taking a test which measured any borderline personality traits they had.

Dr Haas explained the reasoning:

“Oftentimes, borderline personality disorder is considered a binary phenomenon.

Either you have it or you don’t.

But for our study, we conceptualized and measured it in a more continuous way such that individuals can vary along a continuum of no traits to very many BPD traits.”

In the brain scanner people were given some tasks which measured the processing of emotions, along with some control tasks.

Professor Joshua Miller, study co-author, explained the results:

“We found that for those with more BPD traits, these empathetic processes aren’t as easily activated.”

Professor Miller continued:

“Borderline personality disorder is considered one of the most severe and troubling personality disorders.

BPD can make it difficult to have successful friendships and romantic relationships.

These findings could help explain why that is.”

The study was published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research and Treatment (Haas et al., 2016).

This Personality Trait Is Linked To A Healthier Heart And Longer Life (M)

People who are high on this personality trait have healthier hearts.

People who are high on this personality trait have healthier hearts.

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2 Personality Traits That Predict Happiness

Two personality traits that lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

Two personality traits that lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

Young adults who are more outgoing go on to lead happier lives, research finds.

Being more emotional stable also predicts happiness in later life, psychologists discovered.

The study looked at data from 2,529 people born in 1946.

They first answered a series of questions about their personalities at 16 and 26-years-of age.

Forty years later, in their early sixties, they were asked about their well-being and satisfaction with life.

Dr Catharine Gale, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“We found that extroversion in youth had direct, positive effects on wellbeing and life satisfaction in later life.

Neuroticism, in contrast, had a negative impact, largely because it tends to make people more susceptible to feelings of anxiety and depression and to physical health problems.”

High extroversion is linked to being more sociable, having more energy and preferring to stay active.

High neuroticism is linked to being distractible, moody and having low emotional stability.

Increased extroversion was directly linked to more happiness.

Greater neuroticism, meanwhile, was linked to less happiness via a susceptibility to psychological distress.

Dr Gale said:

“Understanding what determines how happy people feel in later life is of particular interest because there is good evidence that happier people tend to live longer.

In this study we found that levels of neuroticism and extroversion measured over 40 years earlier were strongly predictive of well-being and life satisfaction in older men and women.

Personality in youth appears to have an enduring influence on happiness decades later.”

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Gale et al., 2013).

The Personality Trait Linked To A Very Long Life

The trait can increase the odds of reaching 85-years-old by up to 70 percent.

The trait can increase the odds of reaching 85-years-old by up to 70 percent.

The personality trait of optimism is linked to a very longer life, research finds.

People who are optimistic are more likely to live an exceptionally long life.

Being optimistic — a trait that can be boosted — can increase the odds of reaching 85-years-old by up to 70 percent.

Optimistic people tend to expect positive outcomes in the future.

Critically, optimists believe they can control their lives and make improvements.

Optimists tend to lead healthier lives and are also better at regulating their emotions.

They are less likely to smoke, have better body mass indexes and are more physically active.

Dr Lewina Lee, the study’s first author, said:

“While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging.

This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan.

Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies.”

The study included 71,173 people whose optimism and overall health was tracked.

The group were tracked for up to three decades.

The results showed that the most optimistic people lived up to 15 percent longer, with a 50-70 percent higher chance of reaching 85-years-old than the least optimistic people.

One of the reasons optimists live longer could be a healthier lifestyle, along with dealing with stress more effectively, said Dr Laura Kubzansky, study co-author:

“Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively.”

Increase your optimism

Exercises such as visualising your ‘best possible self‘ have been shown to increase optimism.

Visualising your best possible self may sound like an exercise in fantasy but, crucially, it does have to be realistic.

Carrying out this exercise typically involves imagining your life in the future, but a future where everything that could go well, has gone well.

You have reached those realistic goals that you have set for yourself.

Then, to help cement your visualisation, you commit your best possible self to paper.

The study was published in the journal PNAS (Lee et al., 2019).

3 Personality Traits Linked To Better Mental Health

Three personality traits are especially powerful in helping people deal with emotional distress.

Three personality traits are especially powerful in helping people deal with emotional distress.

Being optimistic, feeling positive emotions and controlling negative emotions are all linked to better mental health, psychologists have found.

The good news is that all three traits can be trained and improved.

Practicing these positive traits can actually change vital brain structures.

Indeed, new research reveals that people with these resilient personality factors have greater brain volume in critical areas of their prefrontal cortex.

Dr Sandra Dolcos, study co-author, said:

“People are not necessarily aware of how plastic the brain is.

We can change the volume of the brain through experience and training.

I teach brain and cognition, and students are so empowered at the end of the course because they realize that they are in charge.

It means that we can work on developing new skills, for instance, new emotion regulation strategies that have a more positive approach, and can actually impact the brain.”

The conclusions come from 85 people who were given both brain scans and personality tests.

The scans focused on the prefrontal area of the brain, the region above and behind the eyes.

Dr Dolcos explained:

“We knew from the clinical literature that there are relationships between brain volume and certain personality traits.

Lower brain volume in certain areas is associated with increased anxiety.”

Mr Matt Moore, the study’s first author, explained the results:

“…we found that if you have larger volume in this set of brain regions, you had higher levels of these protective personality traits.”

The scans revealed exactly where higher resilience can be seen in the brain’s structure, Mr Moore said:

“This study gives us the coordinates of the brain regions that are important as well as some traits that are important.

As the next step, we can then try and engage this plasticity at each of these levels and then train against a negative outcome.”

The study was published in the journal Personality Neuroscience (Moore et al., 2018).

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