Social Indicators Research

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 89-118

First online:

The Conceptual and Relational Structure of Subjective Well-Being, Neuroticism, and Extraversion: Once Again, Neuroticism Is the Important Predictor of Happiness

  • Joar VittersøAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Tromso
  • , Fredrik NilsenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Tromso

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The purpose of this study wastwofold: (1) to analyze and explore theconceptual structure of subjective well-being(SWB), neuroticism (N) and extraversion (E);and (2) to compare the effect sizes of N and Eas predictors of SWB. The sample comprised 461participants representative of the adultpopulation in northern Norway. Analyses wereconducted by means of Structural EquationModeling (SEM), and the results on (1)supported the notion of an overall subjectivewell-being construct sustained by the threenested dimensions of life satisfaction,positive affect, and negative affect. A simplefactor structure for N and E was notsupported, and considerable modification wasneeded to provide even a mediocregoodness-of-fit for the trait model. On (2),N explained eight times as much of the SWBvariance as did E. Moreover, throughcomparison of several models it was revealedthat if E is the sole predictor of SWB, theinfluence of E on SWB is overestimated by afactor of seven. Since N and E are stronglyand negatively correlated (r = −0.50), themodel comparison demonstrates the importanceof including both E and N as independentvariables in regression models of SWB.