Subjective Well-Being and Personality Traits: Association at the Phenotypic and Aetiological Level


  • Martina Pocrnić Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb
  • Denis Bratko Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb


subjective well-being, personality, Big Five, heritability, life-satisfaction, behavioural genetics


Subjective well-being is a construct that was examined within numerous psychological research and its popularity has been growing over the last thirty years. It is defined as a combination of cognitive evaluation of one’s life and affective tendencies. However, there are certain inconsistencies and differences in its operationalization in the literature, which will be discussed in this paper. After presenting the definition of subjective well-being, this paper will focus on two main goals. First will be presented findings about the sources of individual differences in subjective well-being, based on the studies that used a behavioural genetic methodology. Results of those studies suggest a moderate heritability of subjective well-being, ranging from 30-40%. Secondly, the main aim is to report the findings of the associations between subjective well-being and personality traits. Numerous studies indicate a strong phenotypic association of subjective well-being with neuroticism, extraversion, and, to a lesser extent, with conscientiousness. Finally, these phenotypic correlations will additionally be interpreted from a behavioural genetic perspective, i.e., with the presentation of studies that have examined the aetiology of these correlations. Namely, different studies showed that subjective well-being and personality share genetic variance but it is not yet clear whether there is a genetic effect of subjective well-being that is independent of personality.