Outgoing people lead happier lives

July 17, 2013

Research from the University of Southampton has shown that young adults, who are more outgoing or more emotionally stable, are happier in later life than their more introverted or less emotionally stable peers.

In the study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, Dr Catharine Gale from the Medical Research Council's Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton and a team from the University of Edinburgh and University College London, examined the effects of and at ages 16 and 26 years on mental wellbeing and life satisfaction at age 60 to 64 and explored the mediating roles of psychological and physical health.

They found that personality dispositions by the time of have an enduring influence on well-being decades later.

Dr Gale, Reader in Epidemiology, comments: "Few studies have examined the long-term influence of in youth on happiness and life satisfaction later in life. We found that extroversion in youth had direct, positive effects on wellbeing and life satisfaction in later life. Neuroticism, in contrast, had a negative impact, largely because it tends to make people more susceptible to feelings of and to physical health problems. "

The study examined data on 4,583 people who are members of the National Survey for Health and Development, conducted by the Medical Research Council. All were born in 1946; they completed a short personality inventory at age 16, and again at age 26.

Extroversion was assessed by questions about their sociability, energy, and activity orientation. Neuroticism was assessed by questions about their emotional stability, mood, and distractibility.

Decades later, when the participants were 60 to 64-years-old, 2,529 of them answered a series of questions measuring well-being and their level of satisfaction with life. They also reported on their mental and physical health. Their answers point to a distinct pattern.

Specifically, greater extroversion, as assessed in young adulthood, was directly associated with higher scores for well-being and for satisfaction with life. Neuroticism, in contrast, predicted poorer levels of wellbeing, but it did so indirectly. People higher in neuroticism as young adults were more susceptible to psychological distress later in life and to a lesser extent, poorer physical health.

Dr Gale adds: "Understanding what determines how happy people feel in later life is of particular interest because there is good evidence that happier people tend to live longer. In this study we found that levels of neuroticism and extraversion measured over 40 years earlier were strongly predictive of well-being and in older men and women. Personality in youth appears to have an enduring influence on happiness decades later."

Explore further: Study links personality changes to changes in social well-being

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S0092656613000901

Related Stories

Study links personality changes to changes in social well-being

December 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers report that changes in social well-being are closely tied to one's personality, with positive changes in one corresponding to similar changes in the other. Their study reveals potential new ...

More can mean less when it comes to being happier -- especially if you are neurotic

June 9, 2012
New research from the University of Warwick suggests getting more money may not make you happier, especially if you are neurotic.

Marriage may make people happier

May 30, 2012
Married people may be happier in the long run than those who aren't married, according to new research by Michigan State University scientists.

Study: Happy youngsters more likely to grow into wealthy adults

November 19, 2012
The first in-depth investigation of whether youthful happiness leads to greater wealth in later life reveals that, even allowing for other influences, happy adolescents are likely to earn more money as adults.

Recommended for you

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

New study suggests that reduced insurance coverage for mental health treatment increases costs for the seriously ill

July 19, 2017
Higher out-of-pocket costs for mental health care could have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of acute and involuntary mental health care among those suffering from the most debilitating disorders, a Harvard ...

Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment

July 19, 2017
An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

zaxxon451
5 / 5 (2) Jul 18, 2013
Our society values extroversion over introversion. It's not surprising that this reinforcement tends to support the "happiness" of extroverts.
Sinister1811
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 18, 2013
Who came up with this study? The founders of Facebook?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.