Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

John Lounsbury

Committee Members

Jacob Levy, Richard Saudargas, Tricia McClam

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between broad and narrow personality traits and life satisfaction for college-aged and adult populations. Hypotheses were several-fold: first, that personality measures would be predictive of life satisfaction; second, that there would be differences in the correlations of Big Five personality traits and life satisfaction for both age groups; and third, that there would be differences between both age groups in the amount of variance in life satisfaction accounted for by three narrow personality traits, i.e., Optimism, Tough-Mindedness, and Work Drive. Archival data were used to compare an undergraduate sample at a Southeastern U.S. university (n=4844), and an adult sample from a database representing working adults (n=7633). Correlation and multiple regression analyses were used for each age group in examining the validity of Big Five and narrow traits and life satisfaction. A Fischer’s z score was used to determine significant differences in the correlations by age. The Big Five and narrow traits were found to be predictive of life satisfaction for both groups, with Emotional Stability and Optimism showing the highest correlation for both age groups. There were significant differences in correlations between the age groups on measures of Extraversion (z=4.64, p<.001), Agreeableness (z=1.92, p=.05), Conscientiousness (z=8.18, p<.001), Openness (z=2.44, p=.01), Work Drive (z=12.82, p<.001), and Tough-Mindedness (z=-2.87, p<.005). Results were discussed in terms of comparing the predictive validity of personality traits and life satisfaction between the two age groups. Study limitations and directions for future research were noted.

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