Is Personality Fixed? Personality Changes as Much as “Variable” Economic Factors and More Strongly Predicts Changes to Life Satisfaction
- 5k Downloads
Personality is the strongest and most consistent cross-sectional predictor of high subjective well-being. Less predictive economic factors, such as higher income or improved job status, are often the focus of applied subjective well-being research due to a perception that they can change whereas personality cannot. As such there has been limited investigation into personality change and how such changes might bring about higher well-being. In a longitudinal analysis of 8625 individuals we examine Big Five personality measures at two time points to determine whether an individual’s personality changes and also the extent to which such changes in personality can predict changes in life satisfaction. We find that personality changes at least as much as economic factors and relates much more strongly to changes in life satisfaction. Our results therefore suggest that personality can change and that such change is important and meaningful. Our findings may help inform policy debate over how best to help individuals and nations improve their well-being.
KeywordsPersonality change Big Five Subjective well-being Life satisfaction Fixed effects Income
The Economic and Social Research Council (PTA-026-27-2665) provided research support. This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the author and should not be attributed to either FaHCSIA or the Melbourne Institute.
- Argyle, M. (1999). Causes and correlates of happiness. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Scwarz (Eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (1999). Personality and subjective well-being. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Scwarz (Eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
- Graziano, W. G., & Tobin, R. M. (2009). Agreeableness. In M. R. Leary & R. H. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior. New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- Losoncz, I. (2009). Personality Traits in HILDA: Australian Social Policy No. 8.Google Scholar
- Lucas, R. E., & Dyrenforth, P. S. (2006). Does the existence of social relationships matter for subjective well-being? In E. J. Finkel & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Self and Relationships: Connecting Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Processes. New York: NY: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
- MacLean, K. A., Johnson, M. W., & Griffiths, R. R. (2011). Mystical experiences occasioned by the hallucinogen psilocybin lead to increases in the personality domain of openness. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25, 1453–1461.Google Scholar
- Mueller, G., & Plug, E. J. S. (2006). Estimating the effect of personality on male and female earnings. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 60, 3–22.Google Scholar
- Roberts, B. W., Wood, D., & Caspi, A. (Eds.). (2008). The development of personality traits in adulthood (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar