Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 2595–2612 | Cite as

The Instrumental Role of Personality Traits: Using Mixture Structural Equation Modeling to Investigate Individual Differences in the Relationships Between the Big Five Traits and Life Satisfaction

  • Heike HeidemeierEmail author
  • Anja S. Göritz
Research Paper


Adopting a social-cognitive view of personality, this study investigated individual differences in the direct (i.e., temperamental) and indirect (i.e., instrumental) effects of the Big Five traits on life satisfaction. For that purpose, we examined a process model in which domain-based emotional experiences mediated the instrumental effects of personality traits. Using mixture structural equation modeling (n = 2682 adults) we found that the direct effects of neuroticism and extraversion were invariant across individuals, whereas the instrumental effects of the Big Five traits varied across two unobserved subgroups. In one of these subgroups (60 %), conscientiousness, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism had relatively larger effects on domain-based affect and life satisfaction. In a second subgroup (40 %), extraversion was comparatively more relevant for explaining domain-based affect and life satisfaction. Our findings provide evidence that the instrumental role of personality traits and judgmental processes may act in accord to promote subjective well-being.


Life satisfaction Big Five traits Whole trait theory Individual differences Mixture structural equation modeling 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors ensure that they have complied with APA ethical standards (e.g., informed consent) and do not have any potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Work and Organizational PsychologyAlbert-Ludwigs-Universität FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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