It’s no secret that, to some extent, people’s tendency to be happy may be hardwired into their personality. But psychologists are still sorting out what personality traits correlate with being more satisfied in life.
Recently, a team of researchers from Canada, the United States and Japan ran a large study focusing on one personality trait in particular: extraversion. The goal of the of the study was to untangle whether extraversion is associated with life satisfaction – and, if so, how this association changes in different cultures.
To address this question, the researchers collected a massive amount of data. Altogether, the study involved tens of thousands of people from five countries – Canada, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Analyzing the data, the researchers found that extraversion was indeed linked to life satisfaction. People who were more extraverted tended to report being more satisfied with their lives.
However, the relationship between the two was strongest in Canada and the United States. In the other three countries, extraversion was less clearly associated with life satisfaction, if the two were associated at all. This result suggests that while being more extraversion does predict higher life satisfaction in North America, part of this probably has to do with culture-specific factors.
Some previous research has suggested that the link between extraversion and life satisfaction could be culture-dependent.
For example, a 2002 study found that extraversion was associated with “hedonic balance” – that is, people’s overall balance of positive and negative emotions – across cultures. However, hedonic balance in turn was more closely linked to life satisfaction in some cultures than others.
A 2013 study, meanwhile, found that extraversion was linked to life satisfaction in China, but partly because it was associated with job satisfaction. That is, more extraverted people tended to be more satisfied with their work, which in turn made them more satisfied with their lives overall.
None of this is to say that introverts don’t have a chance at being happy, or that high extraversion is a guarantee of a fulfilling life. It does indicate, though, that at least in some societies, more extraverted people have a slight edge as a group in their odds of being satisfied with their lives.
Image: Flickr/Shawn Arron