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Personality, satisfaction linked throughout adult lifespan

  • Personality

Certain traits related to satisfaction in life regardless of age, study says

Read the journal article

  • The Link Between Personality, Global, and Domain-Specific Satisfaction Across the Adult Lifespan (PDF, 537KB)

WASHINGTON — Certain personality traits are associated with satisfaction in life, and despite the changes people may experience in social roles and responsibilities over the course of their adult lives, that association is stable regardless of age, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Many studies have shown that people with certain personality profiles are more satisfied with their life than others. Yet, it had not been extensively studied whether this holds true across the lifespan. For example, extraverted—that is sociable, talkative—people might be particularly happy in young adulthood, when they typically are forming new social relationships,” said study co-author Gabriel Olaru, PhD, an assistant professor at Tilburg University. “We thus wanted to examine if some personality traits are more or less relevant to life, social and work satisfaction in specific life phases.”

The research was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

To determine how the relationship between personality traits and life satisfaction changes over time, researchers analyzed data collected from 2008 to 2019 by the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) panel survey, a nationally representative survey of households in the Netherlands. Over 11 years, 9,110 Dutch participants ranging from 16 to 95 years old at the time of the first survey answered multiple questionnaires to assess their Big Five personality traits—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability/neuroticism—and their satisfaction with their social connections and their life overall. Only the 5,928 participants who were employed at the time of the survey also answered questions about their satisfaction with their work lives.

The researchers found that most of the relationships between personality traits and satisfaction remained the same across the adult lifespan, and that emotional stability was the trait most strongly associated with people’s satisfaction with their life, social connections and career.

“Our findings show that – despite differences in life challenges and social roles – personality traits are relevant for our satisfaction with life, work and social contacts across young, middle and older adulthood,” said Manon van Scheppingen, PhD, an assistant professor at Tilburg University and another co-author on the study. “The personality traits remained equally relevant across the adult lifespan, or became even more interconnected in some cases for work satisfaction.”

The researchers also found that different personality traits were related to people’s satisfaction with their social lives and careers—most notably conscientiousness for work satisfaction, and extraversion and agreeableness for social satisfaction. People who saw increases in these traits across time also reported increases in their life, social and work satisfaction.

People’s satisfaction with their work was the most affected by differences in age. As participants in the study aged, the relationship between career satisfaction and emotional stability grew moderately stronger.

Despite a weaker correlation between openness and life satisfaction overall, the researchers found that people who increased in openness also increased in life satisfaction across the 11 years measured by the LISS survey. This relationship may be explained by indirect processes, according to the researchers.

“Emotional stability likely shows a strong link with global and domain-specific satisfaction because this trait colors people’s general view of the world,” Olaru said.

“A good example of how personality interacts with the environment can be found in the work context. One of our findings was that the link between emotional stability and work satisfaction increases across age. This might be explained by the fact that emotionally stable people are less scared to quit unsatisfactory jobs and more likely to apply for jobs that are more challenging and perhaps more fulfilling and enjoyable in the long run,” van Scheppingen added.

Future studies should examine how variables that change with age, such as income, employment status, marital status and health, affect the relationship between personality traits and overall satisfaction with life, according to the researchers.

“While we did not examine what caused these changes, [the research] shows that our personalities and our happiness are not set in stone,” van Scheppingen said. “Perhaps we may even be able to influence how we change: If we try to become more organized, outgoing, friendly, this might increase life, social or work satisfaction as well.”

Article: “The Link Between Personality, Global, and Domain-Specific Satisfaction Across the Adult Lifespan,” by Gabriel Olaru, PhD, and Manon van Scheppingen, PhD, Tilburg University, Wiebke Bleidorn, PhD, University of Zurich, and Jaap Denissen, PhD, Utrecht University. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published online March 20, 2023.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Published on 04/25/2021
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Almost every week there is a new superfood or ingredient that should help you shed extra pounds, boost your energy and strengthen your immune system. For decades, food companies have been trying to convince their customers to buy products that are full of additives, chemicals, and other questionable items. And while many of them are marketed as particularly healthy, these products can have negative effects on your health. Here are some supposedly “healthy” foods and their better alternatives.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Granola

Granola is the healthy breakfast alternative to sweet donuts or pancakes with syrup? Unfortunately not – granola is full of sugar (8 to 12 g per serving) and empty calories and should therefore be considered a dessert. Ingesting a large amount of sugar in the morning can be detrimental to your health. Studies show that increased sugar intake is linked to a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. You can avoid this by simply making your own granola (or granola / granola bars) at home with nutrient-rich ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for natural sweetness. If you want to leave out granola entirely, just use chia seeds or hemp seeds as a crispy alternative to your yogurt or bowl of oatmeal!

Processed Fruit Juices

Even if you used to think that fruit juice was healthy – now you should definitely cross it off your shopping list. It contains a high and concentrated dose of fructose, but without the beneficial fiber that you get from whole foods. The same fiber has numerous benefits and helps you slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, avoiding sudden sugar shocks or hypoglycaemia. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Diet Snacks

Snacks such as vegetable chips are considered a healthy snack between meals and an alternative to high-fat products such as potato chips. However, many of the store-bought brands are deep-fried and are usually high in sodium, fat, and other artificial additives that you should absolutely avoid.
So how about homemade vegetable chips made from carrots, courgettes, radishes or cabbage? Fat-free popcorn, roasted chickpeas, or roasted pumpkin seeds are also healthy alternatives.

Artificial Sweetener

Artificial sweeteners are mostly hidden in “healthy” foods, but they are actually harmful to your health. Studies show that sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin can even stimulate your appetite and lead to food cravings. This subsequently leads to weight gain (possibly even obesity) and a deterioration in your intestinal health. You should definitely avoid diet foods with artificial sweeteners. Sweeten your food yourself. With fresh fruit, stevia, raw honey or maple syrup you can season your meals naturally and so satisfy your cravings for sweets – without any additional chemicals or other no-gos.

Weight Loss Goals For The New Year: How To Make Sure They’re Realistic

Weight loss goals are never easy to stick to in the new year: we all know how many people give up even before the end of January! But if you set your goals the right way, making sure they’re realistic, then you really can use the new year as a way of achieving the fitness levels you’ve always wanted.

Understanding Why People Fail

The main reason why people fail to meet their weight loss goals is because they aren’t motivated enough. When you aren’t motivated it’s easy to find other things to do instead of exercising, and it’s easy to start seeing exercise as a bore or a burden. This is why it’s important to set a resolution that really matters to you, instead of choosing an arbitrary goal.

How To Set Achievable Goals

The key is to make sure that the weight loss goals you set are achievable – both physically and mentally. First, you’ll need to start with motivation. Simply sitting down and thinking about all of the reasons why you want to lose weight or start exercising can get you excited about the prospect. Maybe you want to gain confidence, maybe you want to feel more energized again. Whatever it is, know what you are working for!

Next, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself and recognize your weaknesses. You’ve let things go for a reason – maybe you have a really sweet tooth, or maybe you got so busy or tired in your day to day life that exercise became less of a priority. By being really honest about what has stopped you in the past you can make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Putting Together A Realistic Plan

Now that you’ve recognized your motivations and weaknesses, it’s time to put together a realistic plan. The more specific you are, the better – it’ll help keep you on track even through the tough days. This means setting a plan on how often you’ll exercise, where you’ll do it, and how long for. You’ll soon realize that it isn’t too difficult to fit 30 minutes of exercise into your day to day life!

Don’t forget that you’ll also need to combine dietary changes with your exercise. But don’t take on too much at once! Many people choose to go on crash diets in the new year only to give up within a few weeks. Start with something small, such as reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee. When you’re used to it, make another small change to your diet. The key is to make sure you’re not left craving all the foods you used to love – remember, the goal is to be realistic.