Personality and the perception of health and happiness

Author(s): Cloninger CR, Zohar AH

Abstract

Background

Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Personality traits measure individual differences in adaptive functioning and mental health, but little is known about how well personality accounts for health's affective aspects (i.e., “happiness”) and its non-affective aspects (i.e., “wellness”) in the general population.

Methods

1102 volunteer representatives of the Sharon area of Israel completed the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (PSS), and the subjective health assessment of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Multidimensional personality profiles were used to evaluate the linear and non-linear effects of interactions among dimensions on different aspects of well-being.

Results

Self-directedness was strongly associated with all aspects of well-being regardless of interactions with other dimensions. Cooperativeness was strongly associated with perceived social support, and weakly with other aspects of well-being, particularly when Self-directedness was low. Self-transcendence was strongly associated with positive emotions when the influence of the other character dimensions was taken into account. Personality explained nearly half the variance in happiness and more than one-third of the variance in wellness.

Limitations

Our data are cross-sectional and self-reported, so they are subject to personal perceptual bias.

Conclusions

The emotional, social, and physical aspects of well-being are interdependent, but specific configurations of TCI Self-directedness, Cooperativeness, and Self-transcendence influence them differentially. Interactions among different combinations of character traits have strong effects on the perception of both wellness and happiness.

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