Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1659–1682 | Cite as

Personality, Positivity and Happiness: A Mediation Analysis Using a Bifactor Model

  • Marco LauriolaEmail author
  • Luca IaniEmail author
Research Paper


Recent studies suggested an important role of neuroticism and extraversion facets as incremental predictors of subjective well-being outcomes. Research has shown that positive cognitions mediated the relation between personality traits and well-being. The present study examined the relationship between neuroticism and extraversion, measured as general and group factors, and subjective happiness through a general positivity factor. 770 community participants (69.4 % females; M = 55.34; SD = 16.01) completed personality, satisfaction with life, optimism, self-esteem, and subjective happiness scales. A bifactor model was used to parse general and specific variance components for multifaceted constructs. The general positivity factor completely mediated neuroticism-subjective happiness relationships and overlapped with general neuroticism, whilst it partially mediated extraversion-subjective happiness ones. Other paths to happiness involved cheerfulness and enthusiasm. Assertiveness, activity level and excitement-seeking had a weak relationship with subjective happiness and only through positivity. Gregariousness and friendliness had neither direct nor indirect effects on subjective happiness. Life satisfaction had a twofold role as a component of positivity as well as providing an independent contribution to variance in subjective happiness. In keeping with previous research, neuroticism acted as a sort of general negativity factor. Cheerfulness and extraversion made an incremental contribution to variance in subjective happiness. Our findings support the utility of a multifaceted approach to study pathways from personality to well-being. Theoretical and practical implications for promoting well-being were discussed.


Positivity Life satisfaction Subjective happiness Mediation Bifactor model Personality facets 



The authors would like to thank Lucrezia Bottiglieri, Federica Maria Gioia, Claudia Pucci for their essential contribution in data collection and for their active participation in the coding phase of this study. We are grateful to Federico Brugnoni, Valentina Cafaro, Erika Graci, Sara Pompili, and Maria Chiara Sabatino for their precious collaboration in data collection, and to Antonio Krase for English reviewing. We also thank Dr. Francesco Florenzano and Upter’s staff to allow and facilitate the data collection.

Authors’ contributions

Marco Lauriola and Luca Iani equally contributed to the conception, design, analyses, and interpretation of data, and to the writing of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Developmental PsychologySAPIENZA University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesEuropean University of RomeRomeItaly

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