Big Five Personality Traits and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Life Satisfaction in Iranian Muslim University Students


This study presents the first examination of the relation between the Big Five personality traits, self-esteem, and life satisfaction in Iran, which is an understudied country in the well-being literature. Participants were 235 university students at the University of Tehran, all reporting their religious affiliation as Muslim. Findings revealed that the Big Five personality traits explained about 25% of the variance in life satisfaction scores. Among the Big Five traits, extraversion and neuroticism were found to be the strongest predictors of life satisfaction. In addition, it was found that self-esteem significantly predicted life satisfaction over and above the Big Five personality traits. Findings also showed that self-esteem completely mediated the influence of conscientiousness and agreeableness on life satisfaction, while the influence of extraversion and neuroticism on life satisfaction was partially mediated by self-esteem. Furthermore, findings revealed that female students scored significantly higher than male students on life satisfaction. Sex also could moderate the relation between conscientiousness and life satisfaction. This relation was found to be significantly stronger for female students. Implications of the results are discussed with reference to prior studies on the relation between personality traits and different aspects of well-being in Iran.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.


  1. Campbell, A. (1981). The sense of well-being in America: Recent patterns and trends. New York: McGraw Hill.

  2. DeNeve, K. M., & Cooper, H. (1998). The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 197–229.

  3. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.

  4. Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 653–663.

  5. Diener, E., & Diener, C. (1996). Most people are happy. Psychological Science, 7, 181–185.

  6. Diener, E., Emmons, R. S., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.

  7. Diener, E., & Lucas, R. (1999). Personality, and subjective well-being. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 213–229). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

  8. Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2003). Personality, culture, and subjective well-being: Emotional and cognitive evaluations of life. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 403–425.

  9. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. E. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.

  10. Furnham, A., & Cheng, H. (2000). Perceived parental behavior, self-esteem and happiness. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 35(10), 463–470.

  11. John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. (1991). The big five inventory. Technical report. Berkley: University of California.

  12. Joshanloo, M., & Nosratabadi, M. (2009). Levels of mental health continuum and personality traits. Social Indicators Research, 90, 211–224.

  13. Joshanloo, M., Nosratabadi, M., & Jafari Kandovan, Gh. (2007). Social well-being, big five and self-esteem. Journal of Psychological Sciences, 21, 66–88 (in Persian).

  14. Joshanloo, M., & Rastegar, P. (2007). Investigation of the personality Predictors of eudaimonic well-being in male and female university students. Journal of Iranian psychologists, 13, 13–24. in Persian.

  15. Joshanloo, M., Rostami, R., & Nosratabadi, M. (2006). Gender differences in social well-being predictors. Journal of Psychological Sciences, 18, 166–184. in Persian.

  16. Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207–222.

  17. Kwan, V. S. Y., Bond, M. H., & Singelis, T. M. (1997). Pancultural explanations for life-satisfaction: Adding relationship harmony to self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1038–1051.

  18. Lai, J. H., Bond, M. H., & Hui, N. H. (2007). The role of social axioms in predicting life satisfaction: A longitudinal study in Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 8, 517–535.

  19. Lucas, R. E., Diener, E., & Suh, E. M. (1996). Discriminant validity of subjective well-being measures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 616–628.

  20. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 717–731.

  21. Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  22. Schimmack, U., Radhakrishnan, P., Oishi, S., Dzokoto, V., & Ahadi, S. (2002). Culture, personality, and subjective well-being: Integrating process models of life satisfaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(4), 582–593.

  23. Zhang, L. W., & Leung, J. P. (2002). Moderating effects of gender and age on the relationship between self-esteem and life satisfaction in mainland Chinese. International Journal of Psychology, 37(2), 83–91.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Mohsen Joshanloo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Joshanloo, M., Afshari, S. Big Five Personality Traits and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Life Satisfaction in Iranian Muslim University Students. J Happiness Stud 12, 105–113 (2011).

Download citation


  • Life satisfaction
  • Big Five
  • Self-esteem
  • Iran