Aspects of personal happiness and their relationships with individual differences in personality
There is a substantial body of literature on the positive associations between personal happiness (subjective or psychological well-being) and a wide range of human activities such as personal relationships, leisure, work and religious beliefs. It has also been reported that well-being is related to personality, particularly the traits of extraversion (positively) and neuroticism (negatively). The main aim of the work now described is an investigation of the extent to which the self-reported satisfactions derived from a variety of activities, generally assumed to be conducive to well-being, are mediated by individual personality differences. In addition, the scale used to measure happiness, the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI), was examined and revised and new data has been provided on the relative importance of extraversion and neuroticism as predictors of well-being. Three studies (section 2) were concerned with the positive moods generated by leisure. With the exception of membership of sports clubs (section 2.1), it was not possible convincingly to demonstrate that any of the activities was directly associated with selfreported happiness. A study of adult users of the Internet (section 2.2) showed few statistical associations with personality and well-being when the effects of gender and age were controlled for. An investigation of three pre-existing theories of leisure motivation (section 2.3) suggested that among young people, leisure motivations could best be explained by the opportunities provided for making social contacts. Other investigations examined the connection between well-being, spiritual experiences and religiosity (section 3). Mystical experiences were widespread among an adult sample, irrespective of religious affiliation, but were not associated with happiness (section 3.1). A study of members of religious organisations and of performing musical groups (section 3.2) showed that both activities evoked similar positive affects and these were stronger for musical than for religious participation. No evidence was found for a relationship between happiness and either of the activities. The influence of religiosity upon attitudes to work was also investigated (section 3.3). The components of a Contemporary Work Ethic (CWE) were identified and compared with those of the traditional Protestant Work Ethic. Religious people endorsed the value of hard work more and were marginally less self-reliant than those who were non-religious, but neither the CWE nor religiosity was associated with happiness. An overall association between happiness and extraversion has often been reported and confirmed here. However, a study of happy introverts (section 4.1) established that there is little difference in the levels of happiness reported by individuals who vary widely in introversion/extraversion. It was also demonstrated (section 4.2) that emotional stability is a stronger predictor of happiness than extraversion and the sole predictor of happiness for younger participants. The failure to record an association between most of the activities studied and self-reported happiness might have been due to the properties of the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) that was used as a measure of well-being throughout. A new scale, the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire (OHQ) has been devised and its psychometric properties established. This scale may possess some practical advantages over the OHI, and it appears that the form of happiness measured by the OHQ is uni-dimensional (section 5.1). Overall, happiness might better be considered as a personal pre-disposition, rather than a consequence of particular activities.