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The Influence of Major Life Events and Personality Traits on the Stability of Affective Well-Being

Sophie Hentschel, Michael Eid () and Tanja Kutscher
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Sophie Hentschel: Freie Universität Berlin
Michael Eid: Freie Universität Berlin
Tanja Kutscher: Freie Universität Berlin

Journal of Happiness Studies, 2017, vol. 18, issue 3, 719-741

Abstract: Abstract The current study examines the influence of major life events compared to personality traits on the stability of affective well-being (AWB). It is shown how the decomposition of autocovariances can be used to estimate the degree of stability that is due to life events and personality traits. The approach is illustrated by an analysis of data from a nationally representative Australian sample with four consecutive waves of measurement. The autocovariances of positive and negative mood served as indicators of the stability of AWB. Big five personality traits as well as 21 major life events were used as predictor variables in a path analysis. In comparison to previous studies, this allowed to directly compare the effects of multiple events to the influence of personality traits in a longitudinal design. Results indicated medium stability coefficients for AWB. Ca. 10 % of the autocovariances could be accounted for by life events and about 20 % by personality traits. Both types of predictors together accounted for about 30 %. Among personality traits, emotional stability followed by extraversion had the highest effects. Among life events “financial worsening” and “serious personal injury/illness” had the highest effects. Additionally, life events were significantly correlated with personality traits as well as with other life events. In a next step, it might be interesting to compare the influence of Big Five personality traits and stable life circumstances on the stability of the cognitive well-being component, using a similar statistical procedure. Also, as the number of variables in large panel studies is limited, results should be complemented by more in-depth studies, favourably using multi-method approaches.

Keywords: Stability of affective well-being; Major life events; Personality traits (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9744-y