Social Indicators Research

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 89–118 | Cite as

The Conceptual and Relational Structure of Subjective Well-Being, Neuroticism, and Extraversion: Once Again, Neuroticism Is the Important Predictor of Happiness

  • Joar Vittersø
  • Fredrik Nilsen


The purpose of this study wastwofold: (1) to analyze and explore theconceptual structure of subjective well-being(SWB), neuroticism (N) and extraversion (E);and (2) to compare the effect sizes of N and Eas predictors of SWB. The sample comprised 461participants representative of the adultpopulation in northern Norway. Analyses wereconducted by means of Structural EquationModeling (SEM), and the results on (1)supported the notion of an overall subjectivewell-being construct sustained by the threenested dimensions of life satisfaction,positive affect, and negative affect. A simplefactor structure for N and E was notsupported, and considerable modification wasneeded to provide even a mediocregoodness-of-fit for the trait model. On (2),N explained eight times as much of the SWBvariance as did E. Moreover, throughcomparison of several models it was revealedthat if E is the sole predictor of SWB, theinfluence of E on SWB is overestimated by afactor of seven. Since N and E are stronglyand negatively correlated (r = −0.50), themodel comparison demonstrates the importanceof including both E and N as independentvariables in regression models of SWB.


Regression Model Life Satisfaction Negative Affect Positive Affect Important Predictor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbey, A. and F.M. Andrews: 1986, 'Modeling the psychological determinants of life quality', in F.M. Andrews (ed.), Research on the Quality of Life (Survey Research Center — Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, pp. 85-116).Google Scholar
  2. Andrews, F.M. and S.B. Withey: 1976, Social Indicators of Well-Being (Plenum Press, New York).Google Scholar
  3. Argyle, M. and L. Lu: 1990, 'The happiness of extraverts', Personality and Individual Differences 11, pp. 1011-1017.Google Scholar
  4. Argyle, M. and M. Martin: 1991, 'The psychological causes of happiness', in F. Strack, M. Argyle, and N. Schwarz (eds.), Subjective Well-Being. An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp. 77-100).Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, P.: 1999, Science, fundamental measurement, and psychometric testing. BPS test user conference keynote address, BPS test user conference.Google Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R.F.: 1989, 'The optimal marigin of illusion', Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 8, pp. 176-189.Google Scholar
  7. Bentler, P.: 1995, EQS Structural Equations Program Manual (Multivariate Software, Inc, Encino, CA).Google Scholar
  8. Block, J.: 1995, 'A contrarian view of the five-factor approach to personality description', Psychological Bulletin 117, pp. 187-215.Google Scholar
  9. Bollen, K.A.: 1989, Structural Equations with Latent Variables (John Wiley & Sons, New York).Google Scholar
  10. Bollen, K.A. and J.S. Long: 1993, Testing Structural Equation Models (Sage, London).Google Scholar
  11. Borkenau, P. and F. Ostendorf: 1990, 'Comparing exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: A study on the 5-factor model of personality', Personality and Individual Differences 11, pp. 515-524.Google Scholar
  12. Brebner, J.: 1991, 'Personality and generalization as a source of stress', in I. Sarason, C.D. Spielberger, J. Strelau and J. Brebner (eds.), Stress and Anxiety (Hemisphere, Washington, D.C, pp. 93-100).Google Scholar
  13. Brebner, J., J. Donaldson, N. Kirby and L. Ward: 1995, 'Relationships between happiness and personality', Personality and Individual Differences 19, pp. 251-258.Google Scholar
  14. Campbell, A., P.E. Converse and W.L. Rodgers: 1976, The Quality of American Life (Sage, New York).Google Scholar
  15. Carver, C.S.S. and M.F. Scheier: 1992, 'Perspectives on Personality, 2nd ed. (Allyn and Bacon, Boston).Google Scholar
  16. Cattell, R.B.: 1965, The Scientific Analysis of Personality (Penguin, Baltimore).Google Scholar
  17. Chamberlain, K.: 1988, 'On the structure of subjective well-being', Social Indicators Researsch 20, pp. 581-604.Google Scholar
  18. Church, A.T. and P. Burke, J: 1994, 'Exploratory and confirmatory tests of the Big Five and Tellegen's three-and four-dimensional models', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66, pp. 93-114.Google Scholar
  19. Cohen, J. and P. Cohen: 1983, Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed. (Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ).Google Scholar
  20. Cole, D.A.: 1987, 'Utility of confirmatory factor analysis in test validation research', Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55, pp. 584-594.Google Scholar
  21. Costa, P.T. Jr. and R.R. McCrae: 1980, 'Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38, pp. 668-678.Google Scholar
  22. Costa, P.T. Jr. and R.R. McCrae: 1987, 'Neuroticism, somatic complaints, and disease: Is the bark worse than the bite?', Journal of Personality 55, pp. 299-316.Google Scholar
  23. Costa, P.T. Jr. and R.R. McCrae: 1992, Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual (Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa, FL).Google Scholar
  24. Costa, P.T. Jr. and R.R. McCrae: 1995, 'Primary traits of Eysenck PEN-system', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 69, pp. 308-317.Google Scholar
  25. Côtè, S. and D.S. Moskowitz: 1998, 'On the dynamic covariation between inter-personal behavior and affect: Prediction from neuroticism, extraversion and agreeableness', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 75, pp. 1032-1046.Google Scholar
  26. De Leeuw, E.D., G.J. Mellenbergh and J.J. Hox: 1996, 'The influence of data collection method on structural models', Sociological Methods and Research 24, pp. 443-472.Google Scholar
  27. DeNeve, K.M.: 1999, 'Happy as an extraverted clam? The role of personality for subjective well-being.', Current Directions in Psychological Science 8, pp. 141-144.Google Scholar
  28. DeNeve, K.M. and H. Cooper: 1998, 'The happy personality: A meta-analysis of 137 personality traits and subjective well-being', Psychological Bulletin 124, pp. 197-229.Google Scholar
  29. Derryberry, D. and M. Reed: 1994, 'Temperament and attention: Orienting towards and away from positive and negative signals', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 66, pp. 1128-1139.Google Scholar
  30. Diener, E.: 1984, 'Subjective well-being', Psychological Bulletin 95, pp. 542-575.Google Scholar
  31. Diener, E.: 1994, 'Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities', Social Indicators Research 31, pp. 103-157.Google Scholar
  32. Diener, E. and R.J. Larsen: 1993, 'The experience of emotional well-being', in M. Lewis and J.M. Haviland (eds.), Handbook of Emotions (Guildford, New York, pp. 405-415).Google Scholar
  33. Diener, E. and R.E. Lucas: 1999, 'Personality and subjective well-being', in D. Kahneman, E. Diener and N. Schwarz (eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, pp. 211-229).Google Scholar
  34. Diener, E. and R.E. Lucas: 2000, 'Explaining differences in societal levels of happiness: Relative standards, need fulfilment, culture, and evaluation theory', Journal of Happiness Studies 1, pp. 41-78.Google Scholar
  35. Diener, E., C.K. Napa, S. Oishi, V. Dzokoto and E.M. Suh: 2000, 'Positivity and the construction of life satisfaction judgements: Global happiness is not the sum of its parts', Journal of Happiness Studies 1, pp. 159-176.Google Scholar
  36. Diener, E., E.M. Suh, R.E. Lucas and H.L. Smith: 1999, 'Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress', Psychological Bulletin 125, pp. 276-302.Google Scholar
  37. Digman, J.M.: 1990, 'Personality structure: Emergence of the five-factor model', Annual Review of Psychology 41, pp. 417-440.Google Scholar
  38. Dweck, C.S.: 1996, 'Capturing the dynamic nature of personality', Journal of Research in Personality 30, pp. 348-362.Google Scholar
  39. Eysenck, H.J.: 1970, The Structure of Human Personality, 3rd ed. (Methuen, London).Google Scholar
  40. Eysenck, H.J.: 1990, 'Biological Dimensions of Personality', in L.A. Pervin (ed.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (Guilford Press, New York, pp. 244-276).Google Scholar
  41. Floyd, F.J. and K.F. Widaman: 1995, 'Factor analysis in the development and refinement of clinical assessment instruments', Psychological Assessment 7, pp. 286-299.Google Scholar
  42. Goldberg, L.R.: 1981, 'Language and individual differences: The search for universals in personality lexicons', in L. Wheeler (ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 2 (Sage, Beverly Hills, CA, pp. 141-165).Google Scholar
  43. Goldberg, L.R.: 1992, 'The development of markers for the Big-Five factor structure', Psychological Assessment 4, pp. 26-42.Google Scholar
  44. Goldberg, L.R.: 1995, 'What the hell took so long? Donald W. Fiske and the Big-Five factor structure', in P. Shrout and S. Fiske (eds.), Personality Research, Methods, and Theory. A Festschrift Honoring Donald W. Fiske (Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 29-43).Google Scholar
  45. Gray, J.A.: 1981, 'A critique of Eysenck's theory of personality', in H.J. Eysenck (ed.), A Model for Personality (Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 246-282).Google Scholar
  46. Gustafsson, J.-E. and G. Balke: 1993, 'General and specific abilities as predictors of school achievement', Multivariate Behavioral Research 28, pp. 407-434.Google Scholar
  47. Hayduk, L.A.: 1996, LISREL. Issues, Debates, and Strategies (The John Hopkins University Press, London).Google Scholar
  48. Higgins, E.T., H. Grant and J. Shah: 1999, 'Self-regulation and quality of life: Emotional and non-emotional life experiences', in D. Kahneman, E. Diener, and N. Schwarz (eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, pp. 244-266).Google Scholar
  49. Hoyle, R.H. and A.T. Panter: 1995, 'Writing about structural equation models', in R.H. Hoyle (ed.), Structural Equation Modeling. Concepts, Issues, and Applications (Sage, London, pp. 158-176).Google Scholar
  50. Hu, L.-T. and P.M. Bentler: 1999, 'Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives', Structural Equation Modeling 6, pp. 1-55.Google Scholar
  51. Inglehart, R. and J. Rabier: 1986, 'Aspirations adapt to situations — but why are the Belgians much happier than the French?', in F.M. Andrews (ed.), Research on the Quality of Life (Survey Research Center — Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, pp. 1-56).Google Scholar
  52. Jackson, P.R., T.D. Wall, R. Martin and K. Davids: 1993, 'New measures of job control, cognitive demand, and production responsibility', Journal of Applied Psychology 78, pp. 753-762.Google Scholar
  53. John, O.P.: 1990, 'The “Big Five” factor taxonomy: Dimensions of personality in the natural language and in questionnaires', in L. Pervin (ed.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (Guildford, New York, pp. 66-100).Google Scholar
  54. Kahneman, D.: 1999, 'Objective happiness', in D. Kahneman, E. Diener, and N. Schwarz (eds.), Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, pp. 3-25).Google Scholar
  55. Kahneman, D., E. Diener and N. Schwarz: 1999, Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology (Russel-Sage, New York).Google Scholar
  56. Krosnick, J.A.: 1999, 'Survey research', Annual Review of Psychology 50, pp. 537-567.Google Scholar
  57. Kwan, V.S.Y., M.H. Bond and T.M. Singelis: 1997, 'Pancultural explanations for life satisfaction: Adding relationship harmony to self-esteem', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73, pp. 1038-1051.Google Scholar
  58. Larsen, R.J. and T. Ketelaar: 1991, 'Personality and susceptibility to positive and negative emotional states', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61, pp. 132-140.Google Scholar
  59. Liang, J.: 1984, 'Dimensions of the life satisfaction index A: A structural formulation', Journal of Gerontology 39, pp. 613-622.Google Scholar
  60. Liang, J.: 1985, 'A structural integration of the Affect Balance Scale and the Life Satisfaction Index A', Journal of Gerontology 40, pp. 552-561.Google Scholar
  61. Lucas, R.E.: 2000, Pleasant Affect and Sociability: Towards a Comprehensive Model of Extraverted Feelings and Behaviors. doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.Google Scholar
  62. Lucas, R.E., E. Diener, A. Grob, E.S. Suh and L. Shao: 2000, 'Cross-cultural evidence for the fundamental features of extraversion', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79, pp. 452-468.Google Scholar
  63. Lyubomirsky, S. and L. Ross: 1999, 'Changes in attractiveness of elected, rejected, and precluded alternatives: A comparison of happy and unhappy individuals', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76, pp. 988-1007.Google Scholar
  64. MacCallum, R.C. and J.T. Austin: 2000, 'Applications of structural equation modeling in psychological research', Annual Review of Psychology 51, pp. 201-226.Google Scholar
  65. MacCallum, R.C., M.W. Browne and H.M. Sugawara: 1996, 'Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling', Psychological Methods 1, pp. 130-149.Google Scholar
  66. Mayr, E.: 1982, The Growth of Biological Thought. Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance (Harvard University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  67. McCrae, R.R. and P.T. Costa Jr.: 1987, 'Validation of the five-factor model of personality across instruments and observers', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 52, pp. 81-90.Google Scholar
  68. McCrae, R.R. and P.T. Costa Jr.: 1989, 'More reasons to adopt the five-factor model', American Psychologist 44, pp. 451-452.Google Scholar
  69. McCrae, R.R., A.B. Zonderman, P.T. Costa Jr., M.H. Bond and S.V. Paunonen: 1996, 'Evaluating replicability of factors in the revised NEO Personality Inventory: Confirmatory factor analyses versus procrustes rotation', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70, pp. 552-566.Google Scholar
  70. McCulloch, B.J.: 1991, 'A longitudinal investigation of the factor structure of subjective well-being: The case of the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale', Journal of Gerontology 46, pp. 251-258.Google Scholar
  71. McNeill, J.K., M.J. Stones and A. Kozma: 1986, 'Subjective well-being in later life: Issues concerning measurement and prediction', Social Indicators Research 18, pp. 35-70.Google Scholar
  72. Mulaik, S.A.: 1987, 'A brief history of the philosophical foundations of exploratory factor analysis', Multivariate Behavioral Research 22, pp. 267-305.Google Scholar
  73. Mulaik, S.A. and L.R. James: 1995, 'Objectivity and reasoning in science and structural equation modeling', in R.H. Hoyle (ed.), Structural Equation Modeling: Concepts, Issues, and Applications (Sage, London, pp. 118-137).Google Scholar
  74. Mulaik, S.A. and D.A. Quartetti: 1997, 'First order or higher order general factor?', Structural Equation Modeling 4, pp. 193-211.Google Scholar
  75. Parker, J.D.A., R.M. Bagby and L.J. Summerfeldt: 1993, 'Confirmatory factor analysis of the revised NEO personality Inventory', Personality and Individual Differences 15, pp. 463-466.Google Scholar
  76. Pavot, W. and E. Diener: 1993, 'Review of the Satisfaction With Life Scale', Psychological Assessment 5, pp. 42-55.Google Scholar
  77. Pervin, L.A.: 1994, 'A critical analysis of current trait theory', Psychological Inquiry 5, pp. 103-113.Google Scholar
  78. Peterson, C.: 2000, 'The future of optimism', American Psychologist 55, pp. 44-55.Google Scholar
  79. Raykov, T. and G.A. Marcoulides: 2001, 'Can there be infinitely many models equivalent to a given covariance structure model?', Structural Equation Modeling 8, pp. 142-149.Google Scholar
  80. Rusting, C.L. and R.J. Larsen: 1997, 'Extraversion, neuroticism, and susceptibility to positive and negative affect: A test of two theoretical models', Personality and Individual Differences 22, pp. 607-612.Google Scholar
  81. Sandvik, E., E. Diener and L. Seidlitz: 1993, 'Subjective well-being: The conver-gence and stability of self-report and non-self-report measures', Journal of Personality 61, pp. 317-342.Google Scholar
  82. Satorra, A. and P.M. Bentler: 1994, 'Corrections to test statistics and standard errors in covariance structure analysis', in A. von Eye and C.C. Clogg (eds.), Latent Variable Analysis. Applications for Developmental Research (Sage, London, pp. 399-419).Google Scholar
  83. Saucier, G. and L.R. Goldberg: 1998, 'What is beyond the Big Five?', Journal of Personality 66, pp. 495-524.Google Scholar
  84. Schaller, M. and R.B. Cialdini: 1990, 'Happiness, sadness, and helping. A motiv-ational integration', Handbook of Motivation and Cognition. Foundations of Social Behavior, Vol 2 (Guilford, New York, pp. 265-296).Google Scholar
  85. Scheier, M.F. and C.S. Carver: 1985, 'Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies', Health Psychology 4, pp. 219-247.Google Scholar
  86. Shapere, D.: 1977, 'Scientific theories and their domains', in F. Suppe (ed.), The Structure of Scientific Theories (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, pp. 518-599).Google Scholar
  87. Steiger, J.H. and J.M. Lind: 1980, Statistically based tests for the number of common factors.Google Scholar
  88. Stones, M.J. and A. Kozma: 1985, 'Structural relationships among happiness scales: A second-order factorial study', Social Indicators Research 17, pp. 19-28.Google Scholar
  89. Tellegen, A.: 1985, 'Structures of mood and personality and their relevance to assessing anxiety, with an emphasis on self-reports', in A. Tuma and J.D. Maser (eds.), Anxiety and the Anxiety Disorder (Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 681-706).Google Scholar
  90. Thagard, P.: 1992, Conceptual revolutions (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar
  91. Vassend, O. and A. Skrondal: 1995, 'Factor analytic studies of the NEO Personality Inventory and the five factor model: The problem of high structural complexity and conceptual indeterminacy', Personality and Individual Differences 19, pp. 135-147.Google Scholar
  92. Vassend, O. and A. Skrondal: 1997, 'Validation of the NEO Personality Inventory and the five factor model. Can findings from exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis be reconciled?', European Journal of Personality 11, pp. 147-166.Google Scholar
  93. Veenhoven, R.: 1984, Conditions of Happiness (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht).Google Scholar
  94. Veenhoven, R.: 2000, 'The four qualities of life. Ordering concepts and measures of the good life', Journal of Happiness Studies 1, pp. 1-39.Google Scholar
  95. Vittersø, J.: 1998, Happy People and Wonderful Experiences. Structure and Predictors of Subjective Well-Being. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oslo. Norway.Google Scholar
  96. Vittersø, J.: in press, 'Flow versus life satisfaction: A projective use of cartoons to illustrate the difference between the evaluation approach and the intrinsic motivation approach to subjective quality of life', Journal of Happiness Studies.Google Scholar
  97. Vittersø, J.: 2001, 'Personality traits and subjective well-being: Emotional stability, not extraversion, is probably the important predictor', Personality and Individual Differences 31, pp. 903-914.Google Scholar
  98. Watson, D.: 2000, Mood and Temperament (The Guilford Press, London).Google Scholar
  99. Watson, D. and L.A. Clark: 1997a, 'Extraversion and its positive emotional core', in R. Hogan, J. Johnson and S. Briggs (eds.), Handbook of Personality Psychology (Academic Press, London, pp. 767-793).Google Scholar
  100. Watson, D. and L.A. Clark: 1997b, 'Measurement and mismeasurement of mood: Recurrent and emergent issues', Journal of Personality Assessment 68, pp. 267-296.Google Scholar
  101. Wiggins, J.S. and P.D. Trapness: 1997, 'Personality structure. The return of the Big Five', in R. Hogan, J. Johnson and S. Briggs (eds.), Handbook of Personality Psychology (Academic Press, London, pp. 737-765).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joar Vittersø
    • 1
  • Fredrik Nilsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TromsoTromso

Personalised recommendations