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Temperament and Happiness in Children

Abstract

The relation between temperament and happiness was assessed in 311 children aged 9–12. Parents rated their children’s temperament using the Emotionality, Activity, and Sociability Temperament Survey (EAS) and rated their children’s happiness. Children rated their own temperament using the EAS and the Piers–Harris Self Concept Scale for Children Second Edition, and they rated their own happiness using a single-item measure, the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire Short Form, and the Subjective Happiness Scale. Parents’ and children’s temperament ratings conformed to the four factor structure proposed by Buss and Plomin(Temperament: Early developing personality traits, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, 1984) supporting the use of children’s self-reports as an additional measure of temperament. Temperament accounted for between 9 and 29% of the variance in children’s happiness depending on the measures. Children who were more social and active, and less shy, emotional, and anxious were happier. These results parallel the well-established relation between happiness and personality in adults; temperament traits akin to extraversion (Sociability) were positively associated with happiness whereas traits akin to neuroticism (Emotionality) were negatively associated with happiness. Additionally, children who were rated higher in the temperament trait Activity were happier.

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Correspondence to Mark D. Holder.

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Holder, M.D., Klassen, A. Temperament and Happiness in Children. J Happiness Stud 11, 419–439 (2010) doi:10.1007/s10902-009-9149-2

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Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Temperament
  • Personality
  • Children
  • Well-being