Young adults who are more outgoing or more emotionally stable are happier in later life, as compared to their more introverted or less emotionally stable peers.

Catharine Gale, from the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), and colleagues examined data on 4,583 people who are members of the National Survey for Health and Development, conducted by the Medical Research Council of the University of Southampton. All subjects 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 well-being, 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.

References:

  1. Catharine R. Gale, Tom Booth, René Mõµttus, Diana Kuh, Ian J Deary. "Neuroticism and Extraversion in Youth Predict Mental Wellbeing and Life Satisfaction 40 Years Later." Journal of Research in Personality, 26 June 2013.

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