Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence, and Multiple Happiness

Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence, and Multiple Happiness Adrian Furnham Irene Christoforou University of London This study set out to re-exa...
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Personality Traits, Emotional Intelligence, and Multiple Happiness Adrian Furnham Irene Christoforou University of London This study set out to re-examine the predictors of self-reported trait happiness as measured by the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI) as well as the predictors of various happiness types proposed by Morris (2004). In all, 120 Cypriot participants completed the 4 questionnaires: OHI, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue-SF), and Morris Multiple Happiness Inventory (MMHI). It was hypothesized that Extraversion and Neuroticism would be, respectively, positively and negatively correlated with happiness and trait EI would be a positive predictor of happiness. Considering Morris’ happiness types, it was hypothesized that specific individual difference variables (Extraversion, trait EI, religiousness, Neuroticism) would be predictive of different happiness conditions or motivations (Sensation seeking, Interpersonal happiness, Spiritual happiness and Negative happiness) respectively. All but one hypothesis was confirmed: Neuroticism was not a significant predictor of Negative happiness. This study demonstrated that high trait EI and extraversion are predictive of overall happiness and most happiness types proposed by Morris, although other factors, like religiousness, are also important. Implications for increasing well-being are discussed.

For many years, the topic of happiness remained neglected, with research concentrating on aspects of human unhappiness, such as depression, anxiety, and emotional disorders. Recently, however, this imbalance has been corrected and there are now many studies of what has come to be called “subjective well-being” (SWB)—a term used as a synonym for happiness. Indeed, there is now a whole field called positive psychology dedicated to understanding the process of human happiness. Specifically, studies have examined the definitions, correlates, and predictors of happiness (e.g., Argyle, 1992, 2001; Diener, 1984; Eysenck, 1990; Myers, 1992; Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Vitterso & Nilsen, 2004). Undoubtedly, many environmental factors have been shown to have a strong effect on happiness, such as work, money, and leisure activities. Author info: Correspondence should be sent to: Prof Adrian Furnham, Department of Psychology, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AP, e-mail: [email protected] North American Journal of Psychology, 2007, Vol. 9, No. 3, 439-462.  NAJP



However, some researchers have concluded that personality is a greater determinant of happiness than race, social class, money, social relationships, work, leisure, religion, or other external variables (Diener et al., 1999). Indeed, enduring features of the person can have a strong impact, affecting happiness from the “inside” rather than the “outside” (Eysenck, 1983). For example, Diener and Larsen (1984) found that positive and negative affect in various work and leisure situations was more due to persons (52%) than to situations (23%). There is also interaction between the effects of person and situations. Larsen and Ketelaar (1991) found that extraverts react more strongly to positive stimuli than do introverts, so that the combination of extraversion and pleasant situations produces positive affect. Individuals can also choose or avoid situations and relationships in a way that promotes their well being. Argyle and Lu (1990) found that the happiness of extraverts could be partly explained by their choice of enjoyable social situations, while Argyle (1994) found that the socially unskilled avoid many social situations that others enjoy. Similarly, Furnham (1981) had found that individuals select situations that fulfill various personality trait needs. Various studies have examined the relation of personality traits to happiness and have yielded consistent findings. Extraversion and Neuroticism have been repeatedly found to be the strongest predictors of happiness levels, accounting for up to half of the total variance in various measures (Argyle & Lu, 1990; Brebner, 1998; Francis, 1999; Francis et al., 1998; Myers & Diener, 1995). Eysenck (1983) noted that “Happiness is a thing called stable extraversion…the positive effect in happiness seemed to be related to easy sociability, with a natural, pleasant interaction with other people…then it only makes sense that happiness can be associated with extraversion. Similarly, if worries and anxieties make up negative affect in happiness, it can easily be seen that instability and neuroticism are also connected to unhappiness” (p.67). Fewer studies have looked at the relationship between happiness and emotional intelligence (EI). Trait EI is a constellation of emotion-related, self-perceived abilities and dispositions located at the “lower” levels of personality hierarchies (Petrides & Furnham, 2001). Petrides and Furnham (2003) identified 15 facets, which have provided the basis for the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue). These include adaptability, assertiveness, emotion perception, expression and regulation, relationship skills, social competence, empathy, and stress management. People with high trait EI scores believe that they are “in touch” with their emotions and that they can regulate them in a way that promotes well-being. Furnham and Petrides (2003) found that EI was a positive predictor of happiness, explaining over 50% of its total variance. Whilst extraversion, openness, and stability were also correlated with

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happiness in the regression, emotional intelligence was the most significant predictor. More recently, Chamorro-Premuzic, Bennett, and Furnham (2007) found that four of the Big Five factors, namely stability, extraversion, conscientiousness, and agreeableness, were positively correlated with both happiness and trait EI, which explained 18% of unique variance (over and above age and the Big Five) in happiness. Further, a significant amount of shared variance between happiness and the Big Five was explained by trait EI, which partly mediated the paths from stability and conscientiousness to happiness and fully mediated the link between agreeableness and happiness. Previous happiness studies have tended to look at happiness mostly as a unidimensional variable. In fact, many recent studies have used the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI; Argyle, Martin, & Crossland, 1989) as a trait measure of happiness. This 29-item questionnaire was designed to measure happiness as a whole. However, the concept that happiness is multidimensional rather than unidimensional is not entirely new. Furnham and Brewin (1990) factor analyzed the OHI and found three main components of happiness. Similarly, Cheng and Furnham (2003) showed that the OHI can be subdivided into Achievement and Satisfaction, Enjoyment, and Vigour and Health. These subcategories of the OHI, however, do not clearly represent different types of happiness. An idea recently put forward by Morris (2004) is that there are various distinguishable (but probably related) types of happiness. This is a multidimensional concept not unlike that advanced by researchers who appear to have “discovered” multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1999). Morris identifies 17 types of happiness and proposes that they are all essentially derived from our evolutionary background. For example, “target happiness,” the joy of anticipating new experiences and challenges, stems from our ancient hunting past. “Competitive happiness,” the joy of winning, is derived from our social background, as we evolved in small tribes. In contrast, “cooperative happiness” is based on our need to support one another to survive. According to Morris (2004), we did not lose our old biological urges to eat, drink, mate, and keep warm; these are still present to give us various forms of “sensual happiness.” In addition, our increasingly complex brain has given us important sources of “cerebral happiness,” in which acts of intelligence have become their own rewards. According to Morris, these major categories of happiness, along with a few others, make up a simple classification of “happiness-types.” The definitions of these can be seen in Table 1. Certainly some of Morris’ ideas regarding multiple happiness could be challenged. It seems difficult to establish the evolutionary basis of



some of his happiness categories (especially chemical or comic happiness). Next, the types of happiness seem so phenomenologically different that it is not always clear why they should be labelled with the same state, namely happiness. While this fact helps to ensure they are distinct from one another, it does pose the problem of why they fall under the same label. Morris does not indicate if these 17 types are domains or primary factors (in the psychometric sense) and that there may be higher order facets, or super factors, such that the 17 distinguishable factors may fit into a logically structured hierarchy. Although there are numerous issues to be investigated, it appears that no studies have been conducted to date regarding Morris’ taxonomy, thus making this study one of the first in the field. TABLE 1 Definitions of the Seventeen Morris’ Happiness Types Target happiness: The happiness of anticipating new projects, experiences, and challenges, working with them, and (possibly) being successful in reaching these personal goals. Target happiness is happiness through being an achiever. Competitive happiness: The happiness of winning at the expense of a rival, usually through the expenditure of huge effort. Competitive happiness is happiness through being a winner. Cooperative happiness: The happiness derived from helping others, either by small cooperative gestures or by doing “good works” and/or helping other species. Cooperative happiness is happiness through being a helper. Genetic happiness: The happiness of falling in love, pair-bonding, giving birth and successfully rearing one’s offspring, and the happiness of caring for one’s grandchildren. Genetic happiness is happiness through being a relative. Sensual happiness: The happiness of experiencing a primary biological pleasure such as a delicious meal, a sexual experience, or some other pleasure of the flesh such as bathing, oiling, and massaging. Sensual happiness is happiness through being a hedonist. Cerebral happiness: The happiness derived from playing games with one’s brain where no ulterior motive is involved—from the most trivial (card games and computer games, puzzles and brain teasers) to the most profound (artistic creativity and scientific research). Cerebral happiness is happiness through being an intellectual. Rhythmic happiness: The happiness associated with intensely rhythmic activities like music, dancing, singing, aerobics, gymnastics, athletics, and even with activities such as revivalist religious celebrations, synchronized swimming, dervish whirling, voodoo possession rituals, and military marching (i.e., any activity that involves a “beat”). Rhythmic happiness is happiness through being a dancer. Painful happiness: The pleasure derived from sado-masochistic rituals or mental masochism (seeing any form of indulgence as disgusting and wicked and living a life where such things are prohibited by oneself). Mental masochists may include health fanatics, dietslaves, teetotallers, vegans, anti-smokers, celibates, and even terrorists. Painful happiness is happiness through being a masochist. Dangerous happiness: The happiness derived from deliberate, voluntary risk-taking, such as the excitement of successfully surviving a self-imposed hazard such as gambling or an extreme sport (e.g., bungee-jumping, hang-gliding). Dangerous happiness is happiness through being a risk-taker. Selective happiness: The happiness depending on ignoring the horrors of life all around one (i.e., the joy experienced by refusing to recognise the problems that life throws at you). Selective happiness is happiness through being selective.

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Tranquil happiness: The form of happiness obtained by contemplation and isolation from the cares of the world (i.e., a deliberate philosophical or religious shutting out of the rest of the world and a turning in on oneself, reaching a deep inner feeling of freedom and nonattachment). Tranquil happiness is happiness through being a meditator. Devout happiness: The spiritual happiness experienced by deeply religious individuals by having total, blind faith in the tenets of a particular religion. Devout happiness is happiness through being a believer. Negative happiness: The happiness felt when moments of occasional pleasure interrupt constant mental anguish or the happiness felt at the moment of relief from prolonged physical pain (when pills are taken) or the happiness felt when there is a brief interruption of constant boredom, lack of direction, insecurity, or anxiety. Negative happiness is happiness through being a sufferer. Chemical happiness: The happiness obtained from a narcotic-induced state. This could include use of “hard-drugs” or “soft-drugs” such as tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcohol. Chemical happiness is happiness through being a drug-taker. Fantasy happiness: The happiness obtained when suspending one’s sense of reality long enough to enjoy fiction of some sort (e.g., when daydreaming, storytelling, enjoying fictional writing and theatre, watching soap operas/cartoons/films). Fantasy happiness is happiness through being a day-dreamer. Comic happiness: The pleasure of confronting one’s fears in a completely secure context (e.g., when listening to the outrageous comments made by a comedian, when riding in a roller coaster, or enjoying a horror film safely in the cinema). Comic happiness is happiness through being a laugher. Accidental happiness: The happiness derived from an accidental positive event (e.g., finding a banknote in the street, winning the lottery, or having your suitcase come up first on the carousel after a long, tiring flight). Accidental happiness is happiness through being fortunate.

The current study aimed to determine the dimensional structure of ratings of Morris’ happiness types. This was done by using a questionnaire (the Morris Multiple Happiness Inventory) specifically devised for this study, which contained brief descriptions of the 17 happiness types followed by a question requiring participants to indicate the extent to which they believe each happiness type applies to them. The study also aimed to re-examine the predictors of trait happiness as measured by the OHI, especially trait EI and personality. In addition, the study investigated the extent to which the factors that emerged from Morris’ happiness types predicted overall happiness as measured by the OHI. The importance of several demographic variables in predicting happiness was examined. Moreover, the study examined the predictors of some of Morris’ happiness types. It was hypothesized that Extraversion would be positively correlated while Neuroticism would be negatively correlated with happiness (H1 and H2), a consistently reported finding (e.g., Myers & Diener, 1995). Based on previous research (Furnham & Petrides, 2003), it was hypothesized that trait EI would be a positive predictor of happiness,



(H3) and that this relationship would remain statistically significant after controlling for the effects of personality. Considering the happiness types proposed by Morris, it was hypothesized that different factors would be important in predicting different happiness types. Specifically, it was hypothesized that trait EI would be predictive of cooperative and competitive happiness (H4) because these types are related to relationship skills and social competence, aspects which are measured by EI. Individuals high in trait EI are capable of withstanding pressure and regulating stress (Furnham & Petrides, 2003); this is necessary in order to derive pleasure through competition with others, which is usually very stressful. Similarly, to derive happiness by being helpful to others, one must be capable of taking someone else’s perspective, understanding other peoples’ feelings, and influencing other people’s feelings in a positive way. These are all abilities thought to be possessed by individuals high in trait EI. The next hypotheses were more speculative and based on the ideas in Morris’s book. It was hypothesized that dangerous, rhythmic, selective, target, cerebral, and sensual happiness would be best predicted by Extraversion (H5) because certain facets of Extraversion, such as assertiveness, impulsiveness, and sociability (Argyle, 2001), are central to the above happiness types. Extraversion describes a person who is sociable, active, assertive, and impulsive. Extraverts demonstrate an increased sensitivity to reward signals (Gray, 1981); this can be related to sensual happiness, where a primary biological pleasure becomes a reward. Extraverts also seek a sense of achievement, which can be related to cerebral happiness, where rewards are derived from acts of intelligence, and target happiness, where pleasure is obtained through striving to reach a goal. Extraversion is related to thrill and adventure seeking, and encompasses behaviors such as engaging in risky activities (physically or mentally) relating to dangerous happiness. Extraversion is related to sensation seeking, which could lead extraverts to experience greater rhythmic happiness and could be associated with intensely rhythmic activities like music, dancing, and singing. It was hypothesized that negative and chemical happiness would be predicted by neuroticism, the correlation being positive (H6). High scorers in Neuroticism have been said to be at elevated risk for certain kinds of psychopathology, especially depression, generalized fear, and agoraphobia. For example, Schmitz, Kugler, and Rollnik (2003) found that high Neuroticism was strongly associated with depression disorders. Since negative happiness is defined by Morris as the pleasure experienced as a result of the interruption of ongoing mental anguish, lack of direction, insecurity, or anxiety, it is expected that participants

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who consider this happiness type to be important in their lives will score higher in Neuroticism. Terracciano and Costa (2004) found that current smokers had higher Neuroticism scores than non-smokers, and Lodhi and Thakur (1993) found that heroin addicts have higher Neuroticism and Psychoticism scores. These findings can be related to chemical happiness, defined by Morris as the pleasure obtained from a narcoticinduced state, whether through the use of “hard-drugs” or “soft-drugs.” Therefore high chemical happiness should also be associated with elevated Neuroticism. Finally, it was hypothesized that tranquil and devout happiness would be best predicted by participants’ degree of religiousness (H7), as Morris specifically defines devout happiness as happiness through being a believer and tranquil happiness as the result of a philosophical or religious shutting out of the rest of the world and a turning in on oneself, reaching a deep inner feeling of freedom and non-attachment. METHOD Participants A total of 120 participants completed the questionnaires. All were Greek Cypriots living in the South part of Cyprus. There were 44 (36.7%) males and 76 (63.3%) females. Their ages ranged from 16-82, with a mean age of 36.5 years old and standard deviation 12.5 years. Seventeen (14.2%) of them were students, 76 (63.3%) were employed, 3 (2.5%) were unemployed, and the remaining 24 (20%) did not specify. Eighty-four (70%) were currently with a partner (either in a relationship, living together, or married), 35 (29.2%) were not with a partner (either alone, divorced/separated, or widowed), and one person did not specify. The vast majority (107, or 89.2%) identified with the Christian Orthodox religion, 4 (3.3%) with Christian-Roman Catholic, 1 with Hindu, 1 with “other belief system,” and 7 (5.8%) with no religion at all. Participants’ annual income ranged from “less than £5000” annually to “over £50000,” with a mean of £20000. Of those who were not students, 16 (15.5%) had a GCSE/O-level or similar as a highest educational qualification, 5 (4.9%) A-level or similar, 27 (26.2%) a BA/BSc or similar, 16 (15.5%) an MA/MSc or similar, 10 (9.7%) an MBA or similar, 6 (5.8%) a PhD, and 21 (20.4%) reported having some other highest educational qualification (“other”), not specified. Materials The Oxford Happiness Inventory. This is a 29-item questionnaire, based on a four-choice format, measuring trait happiness (Argyle, Martin, & Crossland, 1989). High scores indicate high state happiness. It has an internal reliability Cronbach’s alpha of 0.90 and a test-retest



reliability of 0.78. Some of the items are almost identical to the Beck Depression Inventory but reversed on content, and it has subcategories of personal achievement, enjoyment and fun in life, and vigour and good health, according to Furnham and Brewin (1990). It has a reported validity of 0.43 with friends’ ratings of happiness (Argyle et al., 1989). It also correlates with positive affect, life satisfaction, and depression at r = 0.40-0.60. The PsycLIT database indicates that over a dozen studies used it as a trait measure of happiness over the past decade (Argyle, 2001; Cheng & Furnham, 2003; Furnham, Cheng, & Shirasu, 2001). The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. This is a 90-item questionnaire containing extraversion, neuroticism, psychoticism, and lie scales (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). It has Cronbach’s alpha coefficient reliabilities between 0.73 and 0.90. Items are responded to on a 6-point scale from 1 (disagree completely) to 6 (agree completely). The questionnaire has been widely used because of its high validity and prominence in personality research. Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Short Form (TEIQueSF). This is a 30-item questionnaire designed to measure global trait emotional intelligence (trait EI). It is based on the full form of the TEIQue (Petrides & Furnham, 2003), which covers the trait EI sampling domain comprehensively. The TEIQue-SF provides highly reliable global trait EI scores that correlate meaningfully with a wide range of diverse criteria, including coping styles, life satisfaction, personality disorders, perceived job control, and job satisfaction (Petrides et al., 2003). Items are responded to on a 7-point Likert scale, from 1 (disagree completely) to 7 (agree completely). MMHI (Morris Multiple Happiness Inventory). This questionnaire was devised for this study to investigate the applicability of several happiness types in the general population. It consists of brief (3-4 line) definitions of the 17 different happiness types described by Morris in his book “The Nature of Happiness” (Morris, 2004; see Table 1). Each description of a particular happiness type is followed by this question: “To what extent does this type of happiness make you happy?” Items are responded to on a 6-point scale where 1 = not at all and 6 = very much. Demographic variables. This questionnaire explored various demographic variables in relation to happiness. It includes questions about participants’ age, sex, marital status, annual income, current occupation, job happiness, religion, degree of religiousness, and higher educational qualifications. Procedure All the participants were recruited from researchers’ contacts in Cyprus from a wide range of settings. Participants were contacted face-

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to-face by the researcher and informed about the nature of the study (although no specific details of the hypotheses were mentioned that could bias the results in any way). They were then asked to fill in the questionnaires in their free time, on their own, and in quiet conditions if they decided that they wished to participate in the study voluntarily. The response rate was high (96%). Originally, 130 questionnaires were handed out, of which five (4%) were not returned and five had to be excluded from the analysis due to incomplete data. Most questionnaires were returned by hand the next day and some were returned by post. The good response rate was due to participants being reminded to send back their questionnaire. Questionnaires were presented in Greek (participants’ native language) to ensure that the content was entirely clear to the participants. The Greek versions of the EPQ and TEIQue-SF already existed, as these were used in previous research. The OHI and MMHI were translated into Greek by the researcher and back translated into in English by another bilingual to ensure content validity. The original English version, as well as the back translation of the questionnaires, are available. Each participant received a pack of the five questionnaires mentioned above (OHI, MMHI, EPQ, TEIQue-SF, and the demographic variables questionnaire). The order in which the questionnaires were presented was randomized to prevent response bias resulting from fatigue effects. RESULTS Factor Analysis To examine the underlying structure of the Morris Multiple Happiness Inventory (MMHI), a factor analysis was carried out. Factor analysis yielded 6 factors with an eigenvalue of >1.00, which account for 62.10% of the total variance. The first factor, labelled Escaping reality, accounted for 13.80% of the variance. The three happiness types loading onto this factor were “fantasy happiness,” “comic happiness,” and “accidental happiness.” Within factor 1, all three items had mean scores higher than 3, which indicated that the participants generally reported feeling happy by temporarily enjoying a positive experience they knew was either fictional or out of the ordinary. The second factor contained items referring to Pleasures of the mind and the senses. The happiness types loading onto this factor were “sensual happiness,” “cerebral happiness,” and “rhythmic happiness.” Factor 2 accounted for 11.84% of variance. The mean scores of the items within this factor (all being above 4) revealed that pleasures of the mind and the senses made a significant contribution to participants’ happiness.



TABLE 2 Factor Analysis (Varimax Rotated) for the Beliefs on Morris’ Different Happiness Types showing mean scores (and factor loadings in brackets) Factor Happiness type M SD Loading 1. Escaping reality

Comic ( .81)



Accidental (.79)



Fantasy (.61) Rhythmic (.73)

3.64 4.48

1.66 1.43

Cerebral (.69)



Sensual (.61) Painful (.72)

4.76 1.52

1.35 1.09

Chemical (.62)



Genetic (-.61) Devout (.84)

5.17 3.78

1.20 1.61

Tranquil (.82) 5. Competitive happiness (.76) .

3.93 4.26

1.63 1.57

6. Bipolar happiness

Negative (.81)



Cooperative (.53) Selective Target Dangerous

5.23 3.33 5.30 2.81

.94 1.71 .93 1.64

. 2. Pleasures of the mind and the senses

3. Biological happiness .

4. Spiritual happiness

___________________________________________________________ *For Selective, Target and Dangerous happiness only the Mean and SD is reported because these types had an eigenvalue of

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