Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Extraverts, who are energetic and talkative, were much more likely to remember the past positively and be happier as a result.!!!
Happiness is looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses
May 4, 2011, 9:22 pm
Remembering the good times and forgetting about the bad are the keys to happiness, claims a new study.
By Richard Alleyne,
Researchers found that people with personality traits that allow them to be nostalgic about the past have higher life satisfaction than those who exaggerate or mull over their failures.
They found that extroverted people had the best ability to do this whereas those with neurotic tendencies were the worst.
The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, suggests that outlook rather than experience and fortune has a strong influence on overall happiness.
It also suggests that by changing certain traits, rather than a whole personality, individuals could greatly improve their happiness levels.
The researchers at San Francisco State University looked at the personality traits and the relative happiness levels of 750 student volunteers.
The used a standardised personality test to see how it relates to their outlook and life satisfaction.
The "Big Five" test assesses how extroverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable a person is by rating them on a scale for each personality trait.
Each volunteer was asked to describe how accurately each trait describes them on a one to nine scale with one being extremely inaccurate and nine being extremely accurate.
They were assessed about their "time perspective" – a concept coined by Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo to describe whether an individual is past, present or future orientated.
This was done by asking them to evaluate their past, present and future describing whether they felt they saw them in a positive or negative light.
Finally they were tested for overall life satisfaction.
"We found that highly extroverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets, said the study author Professor Ryan Howell, a psychologist at San Francisco State University.
"People high on the neurotic scale essentially have the exact opposite view of the past and are less happy as a result.
"This is good news because although it may be difficult to change your personality, you may be able to alter your view of time and boost your happiness," Prof Howell said.
The authors suggest that "savouring" happy memories or "reframing" painful past experiences in a positive light could be effective ways for individuals to increase their life satisfaction.
Numerous studies over the last 30 years have suggested that personality is a powerful predictor of a person’s life satisfaction.
These latest findings help explain the reason behind this relationship.
"Personality traits influence how people look at the past, present and future and it is these different perspectives on time which drive a person’s happiness," Prof Howell said.
To assess time perspective, participants were asked such questions as whether they enjoy reminiscing about the "good old days" or whether they believe their future is determined by themselves or by fate.
People’s view of the past had the greatest effect on life satisfaction.
Extraverts, who are energetic and talkative, were much more likely to remember the past positively and be happier as a result.
People high on the neurotic scale, which can mean being moody, emotionally unstable and fretful, were more likely to have an anguished remembrance of the past and to be less happy.
© The Telegraph Group